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Quick Facts on Sant'Antimo Abbey

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Abbazia di Sant'Antimo Abbey of Sant'Antimo Sant'Antimo Abbey
Near Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy Tuscany
Tuscany  region
Italy  country
Europe  continent
Main date(s)
42.999704° N, 11.515582° E
Opening hours
Mon-Sat: 10:15 am - 12:30 pm, 3-6 pm
Sun & holidays: 9:15-10:45 am, 3-6 pm
0577 835659

Historical Timeline of Sant'Antimo Abbey

Charlemagne stops at Sant'Antimo Abbey and sets his seal on the foundation. A legend later develops that he founded the abbey after falling ill nearby and praying for deliverance, but it was actually founded in 770.


In Roman times, a villa stood on this beautiful site in the valley of the River Starcia. (Remnants from the villa can be seen in the church tower.) An ancient inscription discovered on the site indicates there was a sacred spring here as well.

A Carolingian monastery was founded here in the 8th century, with the church built over an ancient martyrium to Saint Antimo. Legend has it that the monastery was founded by Charlemagne himself after he fell ill nearby and prayed for deliverance. Unfortunately there is no historical evidence to support the tale, but Charlemagne did stop by the site in 781 (apparently in full health), when the monastery was already under construction. He set his seal on the foundation, which presumably gave rise to the legend.

In reality, the monastery was founded in 770 by the Lombards, who ruled the region at that time. It would serve as a rest stop for pilgrims, merchants, soldiers and government officials traveling the busy Via Francigena that connected Rome to France. On December 29, 814, Louis the Pious (son of Charlemagne) issued a charter providing Sant'Antimo abbey with gifts and privileges.

The church was rebuilt in the early 12th century in a Romanesque style inspired by Lombard and French forms. A date of 1118 is inscribed on a column in the ambulatory. This is the church that stands today.

The Abbey of Sant'Antimo was suppressed by Pope Pius II in 1462 and the church was given to the bishop of Montalcino. Today, it is administered by around six Canons Regular, who conduct services with Gregorian chant at the altar throughout the day.

Holly Hayes
October 27, 2011


Inside, the layout is that of a typical pilgrimage church, with nave, side aisles, raised presbytery and ambulatory. Interesting sculptures adorn many of the capitals. In the ambulatory are frescoes attributed to Spinello Aretino (15th century) or an artist associated with Taddeo di Bartolo (14th-15th centuries), which depict a saintly pope (perhaps Gregory the Great) and a martyr saint (probably Sebastian).

Holly Hayes
October 27, 2011


A handsome edifice of warm stone standing peacefully in a beautiful Tuscan valley, the Abbey of Sant'Antimo is surely one of the most beautiful in Italy. Most of the architecture dates from the early 12th century and shows French and Lombard influences in its Romanesque styling.

The church is entered through the west portal, which has carvings and lion statues of the 12th century. The south portal, framed with reliefs of foliage, geometrical designs and mythological animals, dates from the 10th century.

Holly Hayes
October 27, 2011

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