Italy is a place with a long and rich history, with several monasteries and abbeys with interesting legends and historical background. It is highly recommended that guests opt for a guided tour if possible as you get to learn the historical significance of the architecture and monuments in these monasteries. In some areas, there are even museums with interesting relics dating back to the 1000s which have lots of stories to tell. Several of the monasteries also have cafes and gift shops where you can take a break or get a souvenir to remember this trip by. Read on to find out about the amazing monasteries to visit in Italy.
1. Abbazia di Fossanova
Abbazia di Fossanova is a monastery situated in the province of Latina. It follows the Burgundian Early Gothic style in Italy, which originated from around 1135. What is interesting is that this was the monastery visited by St Thomas and you would even see the hoof prints left by his donkey on one of the corners. Though part of it has been reconstructed, you would be able to see the original flooring and architecture under a glass floor which has been preserved.
Abbazia di Fossanova
Address: Via San Tommaso D'Aquino, 1, 04015 Priverno LT, Italy
Website: Abbazia di Fossanova
Opening hours: 8am - 6:30pm (daily)
2. Florence Charterhouse
Florence Charterhouse is located on a hill in Galluzzo, central Italy. It used to house one of the most influential religious figures and was a very powerful monastery in Europe. This was built by Niccolò Acciaioli in 1341 which was used as a center for monks as well as a school for young people. What is interesting is that the ceiling has strategically placed holes near the altar played to amplify the monks’ voices. This is also a good place to visit due to its serenity away from the populated tourist areas.
Address: Via del Ponte di Certosa, 1, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
Website: Florence Charterhouse
Price: 5 USD
3. Staffarda Abbey
Staffarda Abbey is a cistercian monastery situated near Saluzzo and was founded by the Marquis of Saluzzo, Manfred I in 1135. Having reclaimed the land, the cistercian monks built several buildings including a church and market, which are still intact today except for a few touch ups. Due to these touch ups, you would notice a mix of Roman and Gothic elements in the architecture. This monastery also houses a historical art collection.
Address: Piazza Roma, 2, 12036 Staffarda CN, Italy
Website: Staffarda Abbey
Opening hours: Tues - Sun: 9am - 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 5pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 7 USD
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4. Abbey of Sant'Antimo
Abbey of Sant'Antimo was a Benedictine monastery situated in Montalcino, Tuscany. It stands alone in a field of olive groves and green hills, which makes this monastery all the more peaceful. Legend has it that it was founded by Charles the Great where the church was built in gratitude after an angel appeared and told him to make his army a drink which cured his entire army. Learn more about the history and architecture of the church through their video guide.
Abbey of Sant'Antimo
Address: Localita’ S. Antimo, 222, 53024 Castelnuovo dell'Abate SI, Italy
Website: Abbey of Sant'Antimo
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (Daily)
Price: 3 USD
5. Certosa of Saint Lawrence
Certosa of Saint Lawrence is one of the most beautiful monasteries situated in Salerno and has been recognized as a UNESCO a World Heritage Site in 1998. Its architectural style is largely Baroque and holds an extensive amount of Italian heritage. This monastery comprises of three cloisters, a garden, a courtyard and a church. Its structure follows the Carthusian rule that clearly separates work and contemplation. Due to its beauty, this has also been used as a movie set several times.
Certosa of Saint Lawrence
Address: Viale Certosa, 84034 Padula SA, Italy
Website: Certosa of Saint Lawrence
Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 9am - 7pm (closed on Tues)
Price: 11 USD
6. Territorial Abbey of Nonantola
Territorial Abbey of Nonantola is a monastery situated in Nonantola which was a Benedictine monastery dedicated to Saint Sylvester. Today, the church remains as a basilica which is the concathedral church of the Archdiocese of Modena-Nonantola. The interior was built to be elegant and majestic and remains to be so after the reconstruction in 2012 needed due to the earthquake. It also contains several relics and manuscripts from the past which are interesting to look at.
Territorial Abbey of Nonantola
Address: Piazza Abbazia, 1, 41015 Nonantola MO, Italy
Website: Territorial Abbey of Nonantola
Opening hours: 9am - 5:30pm (daily)
7. Novalesa Abbey
Novalesa Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 726 and is one of the most historic landmarks in Turin, Piedmont, Italy. It was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Andrew. Today, the abbey has been reconstructed and is maintained by a few monks. There is a small gift shop where you can get small crafts to keep as souvenirs too. The visit and guided tour is free, though guests will be asked if they want to make any donations afterwards. Guides are also done by volunteers who are extremely passionate about the history of Novalesa Abbey.
Address: Frazione S. Pietro, 4, 10050 San Pietro TO, Italy
Website: Novalesa Abbey
Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 9am - 11:30pm (closed on Weekdays)
8. Pomposa Abbey
Pomposa Abbey is one of the grandest and most majestic monasteries situated at Codigoro near Ferrara, Italy. You would definitely be able to spot it from a distance as its lighthouse like structure towers over the surrounding areas. It is best known for being one of the most extensive libraries and for preserving Carolingian manuscripts. This was also the place which gave rise to modern musical notation where Guido, an 11th-century Benedictine monk and Italian music theorist, came up with a system that used lines, clef signs, and colors as a way of storing music information in a book which helped them to better remember their lines. The abbey closed after the monks left in the 1650s due to poverty and malaria. In its place now is a small museum.
Address: Via Pomposa Centro, 12, 44021 Codigoro FE, Italy
Website: Pomposa Abbey
Opening hours: 8:30am - 6:45pm (daily)
9. Bobbio Abbey
Bobbio Abbey was founded in 614 by Irish Saint Columbanus, and hosted the famous medieval scriptorium, or copying library, making it the most powerful cultural center of northern Italy in the 10th and 11th century. In 1803, the monastery closed down due to the French revolution and it now houses the Museum of the Abbey and the City Museum. The museum collects art and objects of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance periods and was also refurbished.
Address: Piazza S. Colombano, 29022 Bobbio PC, Italy
Website: Bobbio Abbey
Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)
10. Hermitage of Camaldoli
Hermitage of Camaldoli is a monastery situated in Camaldoli, in the heart of the park at Foreste Casentinesi. It was founded over a thousand years ago by San Romualdo. The peace and tranquility surrounding the monastery definitely adds to the restful and calming atmosphere. The location of the monastery represents two very important dimensions of the monastic experience - solitude and communion. What is amazing about this place is that it is still in use up till today and The Foresteria continues to offer spiritual and cultural deepening.
Hermitage of Camaldoli
Address: Località Camaldoli, 14, 52014 Camaldoli AR, Italy
Website: Hermitage of Camaldoli
Opening hours: 8:30am - 8pm (daily)
More than architecture...
Whether you’re someone religious looking for a different and unique spiritual experience, or whether you’re just looking to admire the architecture and rich historical meanings of each monastery, we highly recommend that you visit at least one of these monasteries, even if it is just for a short 20 minutes! Each of these landmarks have such a rich and interesting history that has contributed to the city it is founded in, in one way or another.
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