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Camaldolese Abbey

Historical Buildings

Overhanging one of the high cliffs of the Balze in Volterra

The Camaldolese Abbey is an important monastery built near the city of Volterra just outside the Etruscan walls. It was founded in 1030 by the bishop of Volterra, Gunfredo, and entrusted to the care of the Benedictines, who during the 13th century were replaced by Camaldolese monks. This building was restored around 1500 to a design by Leon Battista Alberti and frescoed by distinguished painters, such as Giotto, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio. In 1861 the Camaldolese monks abandoned the building because of the approaching abyss of the Balze cliffs of Volterra.

The monastery has been restored and is now a single structure divided into two distinct parts: the church, of which only scant ruins of the perimeter walls remain, which still preserve the structure from the Romanesque period, and the residential building, with the cloister, refectory and monks’ quarters. Of particular interest are the frescoes in the refectory depicting various episodes from the lives of St. Justus and Clement, patron saints of the city of Volterra and owners of the Abbey. In the center of the ceiling is a fresco of the Madonna and Child painted by Baldassarre Franceschini.

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