San Antimo

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Abbey of Sant’Antimo

Montalcino - San Antimo - View
Sant'Antimo Abbey - View

Located just a few miles from Montalcino is a large and mysterious building whose true origins are still obscure today. The Abbey of Sant'Antimo is believed to have been built some time during Late Antiquity, with the earliest document confirming its existence dating from the 800s. The current church was actually built in the early 12th century at the bequest of Count Bernardo degli Ardengheschi.

The church quickly became one of the biggest powers in the area, having authority over 38 local churches and owning several hundreds of acres of farmland throughout Tuscany; the church even had control of the Castle of Montalcino, which both protected the area and housed the abbot. The abbey began to decline a century later, due primarily to Siena’s aggressive expansionism and the loss of much of its territory, including Montalcino. The abbey’s decline continued into the 15th century, despite the Church’s attempts at reviving it; it was completely abandoned and left to decay until the 19th century, eventually getting restored in the 1870s. Today, the abbey has resumed function and houses a new religious community of Canons Regular of the Order of Premontre.

Things to see

The building is Carolingian in architecture, with French and Italian influences throughout. Some of the most notable highlights are the frescoes by Giovanni d’Asciano, the French-inspired groin vaulted ambulatory, the crypt and, above all, the capital with Daniel and the Lions.