the monastery of San Benedetto, or Sanctuary of the Sacro Speco, stands in the curvature of a huge rock wall of Monte Taleo and is supported by nine high arches, in part ogival. For almost a thousand years preserves one of the most significant places of Benedictine spirituality: the cave in which at the beginning of the VI century the young San Benedetto da Norcia he lived as a hermit, following the example of the fathers hermits.
Through the period of solitude spent in this harsh and wild, San Benedetto could develop that charisma and that spirituality which in a few years led him to found the first monastic communities along the valley of the Aniene river: the embryo from which you would have developed the entire western monasticism.
Still today, although surrounded by extraordinary architectural masterpieces and artistic accumulated over the centuries, the cave preserves the authentic sense of fuga mundi of San Benedetto, the foundation of every choice of monastic life.
The Cave of San Benedetto became a place of worship already starting from the VI century, and the most ancient artistic testimonies dating back to the VIII century. Starting from the second half of the XI century begins the evolution of the structure that we know today, distinguished by striking a balance between the human element and the natural one, between the architecture and the rock.
Today the monastery is composed of two superimposed churches and many small chapels that follow the shape of the rock wall to which the structure is leaned. The lower church preserves the spiritual treasure of the monastery: the aforementioned cave where Saint Benedict expenditure his three years of life as a hermit.
The inside, complicated labyrinth of environments, churches, chapels, sometimes carved into the rock, is covered by a precious decoration in fresco of various epochs, from early byzantine works (VIII century) to the precious portrait of San Francesco (1223), the first faithful depiction ever made of the Saint, realized even before it was risen to the glory of the altars and the paintings of Magister Consolus (XIII century), to the remarkable frescoes of the sienese school and in Umbria and the Marches that decorate the upper church and other environments (XIV and XV centuries).
The fresco depicting Francis of Assisi was made 3 years before his death probably during his stay in 1223-1224 and returns a Francesco devoid of stigmata and halo. Remarkable also the statue of Saint Benedict, the work of Antonio rays (1657).
The monastery is open all days with the following time:
Morning: 9 - 12.30
Afternoon: 15 - 18.30