According to tradition, in 781 Charlemagne was returning from Rome along the Via Francigena. While camped near Monte Amiata, many in his court and army were struck down by plague. During the night, an angel appeared to the Emperor in dream and recommended that he pick a particular grass, dry it and then make an infusion with some wine and have it drunk by the soldiers. He did this and the army was cured. The grass is known to this day as "Carolina". In return for an end to this scourge, the Emperor promised to found the abbey.
A former Benedictine monastery, the abbey is now inhabited by Canons Regular. The monastery is located in a timeless landscape of fields, vineyards, olive groves and wooded hills with some of the best views of Tuscany. The Abbey was founded by Charlemagne in 781. French monks celebrate Mass several times daily in Gregorian chant. The building has perfect proportions and is built in a soft creamy stone. The interior reflects French style from Langued’oc models. The apse (called Cappella Carolingia) and the portal are richly decorated with animal and vegetable motifs. The Carolingian chapel has frescoes by Giovanni d'Asciano with stories of St. Benedict and currently acts as the sacristy. Under the chapel is a crypt with a nave and two aisles divided by four columns. The Sala Capitolare (Capitular Hall) is decorated with a triple mullioned window with richly decorated capitals. The capital with Daniel and the Lions shows Daniel praying between the hungry lions, and on the other side, the lions devouring the accusers.
Sant' Antimo Abbey is a favorite of Tuscan Muse guests, photographers, artists, cooks and writers who participate in our tours of Tuscany, photography workshops, painting workshops, culinary workshops and writing workshops in Tuscany. The Abbey is situated in a picturesque setting and is ideal for photographers and painters alike.