On our last day in Tuscany, we wanted to visit a winery and our hosts at La Mucchia Casa Vacanze in Cortona suggested we visit The Abbey of Monte Oliveto. We are so glad we did! We should have checked visiting hours before we left, as we didn't have enough time to really savor the experience. When we arrived at the Abbey, we passed through the gate tower and made our way down the brick sidewalk to the monastery. There is also a road that leads down to the Abbey that is easier to walk. With limited time, we went straight to the "Great Cloister" to see the frescoes painted by Luca Signorelli in 1497-98 and Il Sodoma from 1505 on, detailing the life of St. Benedict. The detail and character in the fresco panels is amazing, and the longer you look, the more you see. The refectory and church was also beautiful. We next went to their pharmacy and gift shop, where I was intrigued with their ointments and remedies they had been making for 800 years. They were pricey, but we bought one for arthritis for my mother to try. For book lovers, they have a monastic library with over 40,000 volumes, but I'm not sure the procedure to visit the library. Next stop was the winery tasting room to sample their wares. They make wine, grappa and olive oil, and also sell peas and spelt they grow. Our wine steward spoke several languages and was friendly and informative about all of their products and the history. Several visitors were in the tasting room and it was fun chatting with people from all over as we sampled the wine and grappa. We chose the wine sampler trio and a small bottle of grappa and enjoyed them over the next week. I would highly recommend visiting the Abbey. See more photos from Monte Oliveto Maggiore and our travel tips for Tuscany on my travel blog, Busy Bee Traveler (Italy).
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