Italy has many interesting monasteries and abbeys that can be visited, ranging from evocative ruins to monasteries still in use today where you can take a tour, have lunch, or sometimes even spend the night. They’re often in a very beautiful setting, too.
Here is a list of top abbeys to visit in Italy.
Saint Michael Abbey
This is a stunning Abbey and monastic complex sitting atop a hill in Piemonte’s Susa Valley, about midway between Mont San Michel in France and San Michele Sanctuary in Puglia. Dating from 983, it became on of Europe’s most famous Benedictine monasteries from the 11th – 14th centuries. A visit includes seeing the restored frescoes, the newer monastery from the 12th – 15th centuries, and museum of daily life.
Location: Via alla Sacra, 14, 10057 Sant’Ambrogio di Torino
Nearby sights: Sacra di San Michele, Brewery San Michele, Boscodellemeraviglie
Nearby hotels: B&B Castello di Camerletto, Hotel Chalet del Lago “La Libellula”, Vald Hotel
Originally founded in 529 by Saint Benedict, Montecassino is one of Europe’s oldest monasteries. It sits atop Monte Cassino with magnificent views of the surrounding area. Monte Cassino is famous as the scene of World War II battle in which the abbey was completely destroyed from the bombing but it has since been rebuilt. It’s still a working monastery but is open to visitors.
Location: Via Montecassino S.N.C, 03043 Cassino
Nearby sights: Cassino War Cemetery, Polish Cemetary at Montecassino, Museo Archeologico
Nearby hotels: Traiano Hotel, Hotel Cosmopolita, Nerva Boutique Hotel
Tel.: +39 0776 311529
La Verna Sanctuary and Monastic Complex
La Verna is one of the sites in Italy associated with Saint Francis, where he is said to have received the stigmata. Saint Francis founded a small church in this beautiful spot in 1216. Later a Franciscan monastery and larger church were developed but you can still see the original church, the cave where he slept, and the chapel built on the spot where he received the stigmata.
Location: Via del Santuario, 45, 52010 Chiusi della Verna
Nearby sights: Cappella delle Stimmate, Museo della Verna, La Roccia di Adamo
Tel.: +39 0575 5341
Nearby hotels: Country House la Casa Paterna, Rovezzano Bed and Breakfast, Bed and Breakfast La Collina
Monastery of Santa Croce
The Benedictine Monastery of Santa Croce, in central Italy’s le Marche region, offers one-hour guided tours of the monastery. If you book ahead you can also eat lunch in the monastery. There’s a shop selling products made by the monks and a bar serving herbal teas and the monastery’s special liquor. Founded in 980, it’s now home to the Camaldolese monks.
Location: Via San Giuseppe 5R, Piazza di Santa Croce, 16, 50122, Florence
Nearby sights: Piazzale Michelangelo, Piazza della Signoria, Uffizi Gallery
Tel.: +39 055 244 5334
Nearby hotels: Hotel La Casa di Morfeo, Florence & Us, Hotel Morandi Alla Crocetta
Saint Benedict’s Monastery
The Monastero di San Benedetto, was established in 1334 but the Benedictine sisters moved to the monastery’s current location in 1355 in what was the home of the Count of Adrano, built above the ruins of a Roman temple. A visit includes excavations of a Roman house found within the monastery, the Baroque frescoes in Saint Benedict’s Church, and the 18th century Parlor of the Cloistered Convent, still home to 28 nuns.
Location: Piazzale San Benedetto, Snc, 00028 Subiaco
Nearby sights: Sacro Speco Subiaco, Monastero di Santa Scolastica, Parco degli Aceri
Tel.: +39 (0)774 85039
Nearby hotels: Babbo Bed And Breakfast, BDB Luxury Rooms Spagna, Casa del Girasole