to Chiusi. MONTALCINO. e. Route. 45
The convent, founded in 1320 by Bernardo Tolomei of Siena and
afterwards greatly enriched by donations, stili affords an excellent idea
of a great establishment of the kind. The inonks must have been wonder-
fully energetic to have been able to transform the sterile chalk-soil here
into a smiling oasis. iEneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pius II. ; p. 32) gives
an interesting description of the monastery in his 'Commentaria'.
Over the entrance are glazed terracotta groups of the Madonna crowned
by angels and St. Benedict in the act of blessing.
The walls of the large Monastery Court are adorned with celebrated
♦Frescoes by Luca Signorelli (1497-98) and Sodoma (1505), representing
scenes from the legend of St. Benedict, explained by inscriptions beneath
the paintings. The order of the pictures does not correspond with the
date of their execution. The series begins with the first picture on the
wall adjoining the entrance to the church, representing St. Benedict's
departure from home, by Sodoma. The earliest part of the series are
the cight frescoes by Signorelli, on the wall to the left of the entrance :
Totila kneeling to the saint; Soldier in disguise, attempting to deceive
the saint; Temptation of the fasting monk; Punishment of two monks
addicted to dainties ; Resuscitation of a dead man whom Satan has thrown
from a wall ; Exorcism of Satan ; Overthrow of the idol ; Punishment of
Florentius. — The 'Sending Forth of Missionaries', on the left of the
corner to the right, is by Riccio, a pupil of Sodoma, but ali the other
pictures are by Sodoma, whose sense of beauty is everywhere apparcnt,
though he is doubtless far inferior to Signorelli in depth and excellence
of conception and execution. In the first pictures by Sodoma we can
trace a resemblance to the frescoes of Pinturicchio in the Cathedral
library at Siena, and in the others, features that recali Leonardo da Vinci.
— The Church, which was modernized in 1772, contains little to detain
us beyond the handsome choir-stalls and reading desk, in inlaid work,
by Fra Giov. da Verona (1503). The marble statue of the Virgin in the
vestibule is also by Giov. da Verona. — In the Libreria are a door and
a cabinet, beautifully inlaid by the same master (1502). — The Chapter
House and some of the other rooms contain frescoes by Antonio da
Bologna and by Novello of Naples.
The extensive stables (much altered) at the back of the monastery
contained different sections hearing tablets with the names of the chief
tówns of Italy.
The Emperor Henry VII. died in 1313 at Buonconvento (Alb. Cavallo
Inglese, R. li/2 fi'., unpretcnding), 4V2 M. to the S.W., on the Arbia.
The churches contain a few ancient pictures of the Sienese School.
From Asciano to Grosseto, 59V2 M., branch-line in 3-4V2 hrs. (fares
11 fr. 15, 7 fr. 80, 5 fr. 5 e). — 7V2 M. San Giovanni d'Asso (tolerable
inn). The Canonica contains six small and ancient paintings of the Sie¬
nese School. Mte. Oliveto (p. 44) is reached hence on foot in IV2 hr. or
(better) by carriage. — 13 M. Torrenieri (804 ft.), on the old road from
Siena and Buonconvento (see above), via San Quirico d'Orcia (p. 46),
Radicofani (p. 99), Acquapendente (p. 104), and Bolsena (p. 105), to Rome.
[About 5i/2 M. to the S.W. of Torrenieri (omnibus twice daily in
IVa hr., fare 1V2 fr.) lies Montalcino (1676 ft. ; Albergo del Giglio,
R. lV4fr., clean; carr. from Siena, see p. 22), a town (4872 inhab.) which
early in the middle ages belonged to the abbey of Sant' Antimo (see
below), and afterwards to Siena. In the Palazzo Municipale is the
Cappella delle Carceri, which contains a small collection of pictures
from suppressed monasteries, including a Descent from the Cross (1382)
and a Coronation of the Virgin (1388) by Bartolo di Fredi. The Cathe¬
dral was begun in 1818. The Franciscan Monastery is now a hospital.
Over the chief entrance of the church belonging to it is a group of the
Madonna, John the Baptist, St. Peter, and St. Sebastian, of the school
of Della Robbia (1507). A room adjoining the sacristy is adorned with
frescoes of the latter part of the 15th cent., and the monastery-court
contains others dating from 1438. Fine view from the modern church of