When you visit these Italian monasteries, you can eat as monks have eaten for centuries.
Italian monasteries are famous for their stunning architecture, their contemplative atmosphere and for carrying on some of the most long-standing food traditions in the country. From Trentino, in northern Italy, all the way down to Sicily, here is a list of the monastic complexes where you can eat like a monk.
1. Monastery of Santa Scholastica, Latium
Nestled along the cliffs bordering the pristine Aniene Valley, just a few miles from Rome, the Benedictine Monastery of St. Scholastica, also known as Subiaco Abbey, is the only surviving monastery of the 12 monasteries founded by Benedictines during the Middle Ages.
Built in the 8th century and expanded over the following centuries, it features elements of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, including a Gothic style refectory on the west wing of the cloister. For the past 500 years Benedictine monks have been diligently working to turn fresh produce from the monastery’s vegetable garden into gastronomic delicacies. From deep-fried zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta to pasta with fresh mushrooms and peas and ham filled with pistachios, Santa Scholastica is a trove of gastronomic treasures.
The monastery is open to the public. You can spend the night or visit the refectory to enjoy one of the Benedictine recipes prepared by monks. To book visits, send an email to email@example.com.
2. Abbey of the Holy Spirit, Caltanissetta, Sicily
Built in the 12th century by order of Count Roger I of Sicily, the Abbey of the Holy Spirit is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture on the island. It attracts thousands of visitors each year for its fine architecture, its rich collection of art including a mosaic of Christ, and its famous selection of delicious treats. Thanks to the dedication of Cistercian nuns, an order that spun off from the Benedictine order, the abbey has been the backdrop of many innovative Sicilian desserts. From the “pistachio cous cous” (a sweet and crunchy crumble made of pistachios, almonds, cinnamon and chocolate) to “buccellato ai fichi” (a swirled pastry filled with dried figs and chocolate), the Abbey of the Holy Spirit’s desserts rival that of any local pastry shop.