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San Vincenzo al Volturno

Listed under Monasteries in Italy.

  • Photo of San Vincenzo al Volturno
  • Photo of San Vincenzo al Volturno
Photo of San Vincenzo al Volturno
Photo by flickr user Fiore S. Barbato
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The Monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno is an odd thing. A rival to Monte Cassino, it was sacked, rebuilt, and then fell into decline, slowly being absorbed by it's larger neighbor until it was entirely owned by the monks of Monte Cassino. Only in modern times has it sprung back into public eye as teams of archaeologists have begun digging in the last decade or so in the area around the "Crypt of Epiphianus".

The area was originally settled by the Samnites, rivals to the Romans, but does not appear again until the Middle Ages, where legend tells us three noblemen Paldo, Tato, and Taso founded the monastery in the 700s. The Lombards and the Franks fought (political) battles over the monastery until it was razed by a group of Saracens. The monastery wasn't rebuilt until the 10th century, where it was relocated to a much more easily defendible position nearby the river. Political machinations forced the newly rebuilt monastery into decline, upon which a schism acted as a death knell. The monastery at Monte Cassino soon acquired possession of their neighbors.

In modern times, the monastery was heavily damaged by bombing during World War Two. If you visit, you can see the remnants of an old set of arches across a field from the new(er) monastery building. Happily, a group of (American!) Benedictine nuns has taken up residence of the monastery. If you want to stay at the monastery, it is generally advisable (meaning you SHOULD) contact them. Be sure to visit the crypt and see the ninth-century frescoes.

More about San Vincenzo al Volturno.

Written by  Robert Evans.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

I love reading about old monasteries and hadn't heard about this one. Your readers might like to know that it is very easy to book accommodation in monasteries in Italy. I found a good website which has access to over 500 monastery and convent guest houses all over Italy. I'm using them on my next trip (2010)for a room in rome.

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