The Abbey of Sant’Antimo near Siena
The Abbey of Sant’Antimo: from the legend to the gregorian chants
The benedictine Abbey of Sant’Antimo is considered one of the most important romanesque monuments in Tuscany.
The history of the abbey
The origins of the Abbey are shrouded in myth. According to the legend, it was founded by Charlemagne in 781. What is certain is that we find it documented since the first half of the 9th century and that among his main benefactors there is Louis the pious, son of Charlemagne.
The Abbot of Sant’AntimoIt was one of the main landowners of the area and exercised his authority over a vast territory from Grosseto to Pistoia. Under his jurisdiction there were not only dozens between churches and churches, but also numerous castles, farms and mills.
During the XIII century the abbey started to lose power and the control over some of his possessions. At the end of the 13th century the monastery is assigned to the order of the hermits of Saint William, and in 1462 Pope Pius II decides to incorporate in the diocese of Montalcino and Pienza.
In the 15th century the Abbey was abandoned so much so that its stones were reused in the construction of the village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate.
The date that marks the rebirth of the Abbey is that of 1870. This is the year when it was started the first restoration of the Church.
Finally, in 1979, the Archbishop of Siena decided to recreate a monastic community in Sant’Antimo.
Although the Abbey was founded previously, the present Church dates from the 12th century when it was rebuilt in larger sizes.
The exterior of the Church
The facade, that is incomplete, leaves appear signs of four arches and a porch enclosing the rich portal, decorated with elegant sculptures. On the architrave of the portal, decorated on the outside with the depiction of a vine plant, there is the name of one of the architects of the Church, the monk Azzone dei Porcari.
On the bottom of the left side of the church stands the mighty bell tower (27 meters tall). The bell tower that is older than the Church, was in fact part of the previous complex, is open by single and double-arched windows in the upper part.
Sant’Antimo is a church with three naves with travertine masonry.The naves are separated by arches supported by columns alternating with cruciform pillars above which are the women’s galleries. Deserve special attention the capitals of the columns, especially the one depicting Daniel in the pit of the Lions attributed to the Master of Cabestany.
Particularly worthy of interest is the area of the apse crowned byan ambulatory with three radial chapels.
Inside the church are conserved frescoes and other works bysculptor dated between the 12th and 15th centuries.
Sant’Antimo is famous for the tradition of the gregorian chants. At the Abbey are regularly organized both sacred music and classical music concerts.
It also organized courses to learn gregorian chant and also tolearn the technique of miniature.
November-March: every day 10.00- 17.00
April-October: every day 10.00- 19.00
There are two types of tours:
1) with the video-guide: 3 euro
2) video-guide + the route called “La Via della Luce” (the way of light): 6 euro
For more informations about the abbey, the visits and the gregorian chants, please consult to the Official website.