26 Feb 2015

Fossanova Abbey (2)

The Abbey of Fossanova is famous for its Gothic-Cistercian architecture and is situated near the town of Priverno at the foot of the Lepini Mountains. Originally a Benedictine monastery in the 12th century it was taken over by the Cistercian Order.  The monks first drained the marshy land by digging a ditch to run of the water (new ditch - fossa nuova) and a new church was built. It's less than an hour's drive from our village so Priverno and the abbey at Fossanova is one that we know well.  The woods in the area are a good place to have a picnic and gather wild asparagus when it's in season around about Easter time.

The frescoes on the otherwise unadorned walls in the abbey and others in the monastery date back to the 14th century.


The Cloister: Rectangular in shape, three of the sides are Romanesque in style whilst the Gothic-styled fourth side was constructed much later in the 13th century and was done with the help of Roman marble workers. The covered kiok with its pyramid-shaped cover supported by beautifully-carved columns was typical of Cistercian monasteries.  Here the monks would use the wash basin during different times of the day - first thing in the morning, after work and before meals.

On our last visit we also went into the buildings where travellers would have stayed. Here Thomas Aquinas, the theologian, died whilst he was on a journey to Lyon where there was to be an important church council meeting. His cell and a chapel can be visited on the upper floor accessed by a narrow, winding staircase. Thomas Aquinas was originally from the local area in South Lazio and a family castle is situated in a hill town near to where we live in Italy.

                                                                 the cell of Thomas Aquinas

                                                                             the chapel

                                                             the wooden canopy over the altar

                                                             a bee - a detail of the marble altar
                            Among other things, the bee in Christian art symbolises the resurrection.

a corner of the monastery garden

This will be my last post for a while as I'm taking a blogging break.

                                                 I hope you have a happy March!


  1. Fabulous buildings Linda, beautifully photographed. Have a good break.

  2. Dear Linda,

    Wonderful architecture of the Abbey and loved seeing the pretty daffodils on your header.
    Enjoy your blogging break and I look forward to when you return.
    Sending hugs

  3. Have a lovely time Linda - enjoyed seeing Fossanova Abbey, learning about Thomas Aquinus, and enjoyed seeing all the little details that you included especially that bee on the marble altar.

  4. Wonderful photos, Linda of such a beautiful building. I also love the idea of a woodland picnic and picking wild asparagus - it sounds delightful. Have a wonderful break and happy March to you too:)

  5. Such a beautiful building and so full of history. Enjoy your blogging break.

  6. the word that came to mind as i studied the Abbey is Massive.. everything about it is massive and of course beautiful. love the daffodils inside and outside... here in the south of USA we call them jonquils. mother loved them and her garden was full of them

  7. What an astonishing place! So much history! I was fascinated by that bee, I recall watching a programme once were bees were being studied as they apparently turn up a lot in early Christian history.....
    Fancy being able to just go and pick wild asparagus! Have a good break.xxx

  8. Have a great blogging break, Linda... I haven't been very good at blogging lately myself--especially with writing comments...

    Beautlful Abbey.. Love the history and the architecture... Thanks for sharing.


  9. Thank you for your kind comments, everyone.

  10. The architecture really is amazing isn't it! xx

  11. Some lovely photos, I'm not one much for visiting buildings but there is some lovely history here. Visiting the woods for a picnic and gathering wild asparagus is right up my alley though!! Have a lovely March.

  12. These photos are wonderful, Linda. I tried your link on Greenthumb's scavenger hunt, but it wouldn't work for me. I hope that you are having a wonderful time in Italy. The architecture and art is wonderful there, and you have taken beautiful and serene photos! Take care!

  13. The monastery is quite beautiful.
    I am trying to dream of picnics in the woods and gathering wild asparagus.
    What a treat that would be in such gorgeous surroundings.

  14. This is an amazing place. Thank you for sharing the pictures. The lilies are gorgeous. Have a great blogging break!


  15. Gorgeous photos, Linda. I love the austere beauty of the interior of the church and the tranquillity of the cloister. The stone is wonderful.

    Enjoy your blogging break.