Well, I could describe the beauty of the Italian countryside again. But I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Today we visited the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a Benedictine Monastery founded in 1313.
On our way there, we drove through an area called La Crete with its stunning display of rolling hills that, with the sun shining as it did on Thursday, almost look like they’re in motion.
I feel like I’m running out of adjectives to describe the beauty of Tuscany and all the areas we visited on our excursions with the Saena Iulia language school. Italy’s beauty is never-ending.
At the Abbey, we walked around a courtyard under a portico covered in frescoes that tell the story of the life of St. Benedict. Another highlight was inside the church with inlaid wooden choir stalls. The detail was impressive.
We ended our day in the usual way: with wine, cheese, good conversation and plenty of laughs. We stopped in a dry goods store in the village of Chiusure and found ourselves sitting amidst of shelves of shampoo, cologne and detergent drinking wine and dipping bread in very fresh olive oil. The owners, Ilio and his wife Licia, also run a restaurant on the second floor. It’s got about 25 seats, no real menu, just ordinary Tuscan food, you know, like Bistecca Florentina. He showed me the open fire pit for grilling.
Visiting a centuries-old Abbey, medieval churches, historic towns and villages in Chianti and eating bread and olive oil in the middle of a convenience store are all experiences I will treasure forever. But then you meet people like Ilio and Licia, or you walk into a church and meet an pipe organ restorer, or you go into the Duomo in Massa Marittima and talk to Anna, a local who gives you a history lesson in 15 minutes about the art inside, and those experiences are enriched ten-fold. And so I say “Grazie Mille” to everyone who shared our days, answered questions, poured some wine and told us a great story or two. You are forever etched in the history of my time here, in beautiful Italia.