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 Slow Tuscany > Tuscany > Siena > The Abbey of Sant'Antimo
The ancient Abbey of Sant'Antimo:
Music for the pilgrims...

Damiano Andreini

Going through the sienese landscape, between Montalcino and the course of the Orcia river, the Benedictine Abbey of Sant'Antimo presents itself like a revelation, completely surrounded by high cypresses and centuries-old olive trees, in a country still quite uncontaminated.

Traces that time has jealously preserved for us, as if it wanted to preserve the memory of other times and different life rhythms. Then, we pass without haste through the loose earth driveway that brings us to the Abbey, so that this can slowly reveal itself to our sight; and we remind the words of a famous medieval chronicler, Rodolfo il Glabro, who noted that Europe, on the verge of the year One Thousand, was fitting herself out with a "white cloak of churches".

Making a stop in Sant'Antimo's monastic complex the peregrine of yesterday, on a journey along the Via Francigena, could find a shelter, and assistance for his own material and spiritual needs. A prestigious example of the meeting between the French and the Lombard Romanesque architecture, the Abbey was founded at the epoch of Charlemagne, and then enlarged in the XII century.

Inside the church, a quiet silence circulates among walls and almost transparent alabaster columns. The darkness is barely lighted up by some light blades that break in through the narrow windows; extraordinary capitals, sculpted in relief, unfold as in a fan a world of symbols whose meanings seem nearly lost at the beginning of time. The abbey of Sant'Antimo is probably the last place
in the whole of Italy where you can still listen the original medieval "Gregorian" chants, thanks to the monks who, still today, sing together with that marvellous magical music.

Damiano Andreini

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