Subiaco, Rome, Italy. Jan 2019 - Unique frescos at Monastery of Sacred Cave (Sacro Speco) of Saint Benedict in Subiaco, province of Rome, Lazio. Monastero del Sacro Speco di San Benedetto da Norcia.; Shutterstock ID 1298910703; purchase_order: 65050; job: ; client: ; other:

Shutterstock / jackbolla

Monastero di San Benedetto

Top choice in Lazio

This spectacularly sited hilltop monastery is carved into the rock over the cave where St Benedict supposedly spent three years meditating. As well as its setting, described by Petrarch as ‘the edge of Paradise’, it boasts an interior almost entirely covered in 13th- to 15th-century frescoes. The Chiesa Superiore (Upper Church) features works by the 14th-century Sienese school and later 15th-century works illustrating episodes from the life of Benedict. Downstairs, the Chiesa Inferiore (Lower Church) has works from the 13th-century Roman school.

Accessible from the lower church, the Grotta di San Benedetto is in better shape now than when Benedict, here represented by Antonio Raggi's delicate marble statue, did his time here in around AD 500.

Another highlight is a painting of St Francis in the Capella di San Gregorio. This is reckoned to be one of the earliest known depictions of the saint, who is portrayed standing up and without his stigmata. This, scholars reckon, dates the painting to some time before 1224, the year St Francis supposedly received the stigmata.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lazio attractions

1. Monastero di Santa Scolastica


Subiaco's Monastero di Santa Scolastica is the only one of the 13 monasteries built by St Benedict still standing in the Valley of the Amiene – and still…

3. Parco Villa Gregoriana

16.7 MILES

This scenic park, laid out by Pope Gregory XVI in 1834, cascades down a steep, thickly wooded gorge overlooked by a 2nd-century BC Roman temple. Paths…

4. Rocca Pia

16.75 MILES

Dominating the centre of town, Tivoli's castle has been a local landmark since Pope Pio II had it built in the late 15th century. With its formidable…

5. Villa d'Este

16.86 MILES

In the hilltop centre, the steeply terraced grounds of Villa d'Este are a superlative example of a Renaissance garden, complete with monumental fountains,…

6. Villa Adriana

17.77 MILES

The ruins of Hadrian's vast country estate, 5km outside of Tivoli proper, are quite magnificent, easily on a par with anything you'll see in Rome. Built…

7. Tusculum

22.57 MILES

The remnants of ancient Tusculum lie littered on a hilltop a few kilometres outside Frascati – you'll need a car to get to the site. The main ruins of…

8. Villa Aldobrandini Gardens

23.77 MILES

Looming over Frascati's main square, Villa Aldobrandini is a haughty 16th-century villa designed by Giacomo della Porta and built by Carlo Maderno. It's…