Want to get out of the hustle and bustle of Rome? The town of Subiaco is located in the eastern Lazio region of central Italy, at the head of the Aniene valley, close to a hill about 400 meters above sea level, and across the slopes of the Simbruini mountains.
The medieval town, built on a rocky cliff, looks over the entire valley of the Aniene, where we find the Benedictine monasteries of the ‘Sacro Speco’ and ‘St. Scholastica’, the principal attractions of a visit.
At the entrance to Subiaco is the medieval bridge of S. Francesco, built by Abbot Adhemar in 1358 and with a single span reaching almost 40 metres. The tower at the end of the bridge historically controlled access to the city.
Across the river Aniene is the Church of S. Francis, dating back to 1327 and built in the Romanesque-Gothic style. The interior of the church has a single nave covered by a trussed roof, with a great triumphal arch and a square choir.
Be sure to enter the church which contains frescoes of considerable importance, such as those by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, called “Il Sodoma” (1477-1549), who painted a cycle of frescoes depicting the life of Mary, which concludes with the Passion of Christ.
In the church vault are paintings of the Evangelists and Christ the Redeemer while below there are some scenes in the ancient relief style and two pilasters with grotesques.
Outside the town, we find the famous monastery of St. Scholastica. Of particular interest is the Romanesque bell tower, dating back to the eleventh century, with three cloisters (of Renaissance, Gothic and Cosmatesque style).
Of the twelve monasteries in the valley constructed by St. Benedict at Subiaco, it is the only one to have survived the various earthquakes and destructions. It appears as a complex of buildings built in different periods and styles.
The monastery is structured with three cloisters. The first, the “Renaissance cloister,” dates back to the 16th century, while the “Gothic Cloister” with pointed arches, is 14th century. The third cloister dates from the 13th century with the colonnade by the brothers Cosmati and ornamented pavements, walls and columns with enamels of gold.
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