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11 March 2011

The Monasteries of Saints Benedict & Scholastica in Subiaco

The Monastery of St. Benedict from the road.
If ever I am asked which church is the most beautiful I have been to in Italy, I would have a difficulty in replying because in every church I have visited, I always leave wide-eyed in awe with its beauty & history.  There is a conservative average of 3 churches (this is based on my own mental statistics) per town, even if the town is just a few streets big and the population is less than 200.   I have been to more than a hundred towns & cities here so that would make about 300 churches at the minimum.  At some point, I ask myself, don't they already look the same after seeing one after the other?   My memory is not something to be proud of but I remember most of the churches vividly.  

The Monastery of St. Benedict is one of them.  It is one of the most beautiful & peculiar churches I have ever seen.  Founded around year 500 by St. Benedict, the church was carved in the mountain, covered with frescoes & comprised of different levels.  There are actually two churches inside with several different chapels, all built in different periods, the last of which is from the 14th century.  

Another monastery nearby is the Monastery of St. Scholastica, who happens to be St. Benedict's twin sister.  Two saints in one family.   Amaranthine calm in their household.   Fortunate parents.  While in Subiaco, St. Benedict founded twelve small monasteries.  Among these, the Monastery of St. Scholastica is the only surviving one and is considered the oldest Benedictine monastery in the world.

These monasteries are located just outside the town of Subiaco, some 80 km. away from Rome.  

With the introduction done, you can continue reading about it in their site at the Benedictine Monasteries of Subiaco

The Monastery of St. Benedict

The upper church.

The holy steps.  There was a wedding going on when we went for our second visit.  You can't take pictures inside but...
The lower church.
The Monastery of St. Scholastica as seen from St. Benedict's Monastery.
Monastery of St. Scholastica.  You can't go around freely.  There are free tours that are conducted regularly in the mornings and in the afternoons. 

The co-cathedral of the town of Subiaco.
The first time we went there, we bought our lunch in the town's delicatessen and had a picnic.  These are typical olives with spicy (not so much though because our son can eat them) condiments. 
A panino (sandwich) of prosciutto crudo & cheese.

A cake called salame del re (salami of the king).   It's a sponge cake roll with a hazelnut-chocolate spread, similar to Nutella.
On our second visit there, we tried the recommended restaurant of the Monastery of St. Scholastica.  Their daily full menus are fixed so don't try ordering something else when you are inside.  The menu is composed of appetizer, pasta, main course, side dish, dessert, wine & water.  The food was basically good.  The restaurant is a part of the hotel that is housed in the premises of the monastery.