Chiusure is a small hamlet about halfway between the towns of Buonconvento and Asciano, on a road that winds through the Crete Senese in the Province of Siena. The area around Chiusure is filled with majestic cypresses and has arguably one of the finest views in all of Tuscany.
The hamlet of Chiusure developed around the ancient church, Sant’Angelo in Luco, which already existed in the 8th century. Bernardo Tolomei founded the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore in 1319 and Antonio di Meo Tolomei, a member of a noble family that owned estates in the surrounding area, acquired the village of Chiusure in 1333, and gave the land and houses to the villagers.
Many visitors come to Chiusure to see the great views of the Crete Senesi. Others come to see the abbey. But the main excitement in summer now is the new Amant programme, wherein artists take up residency in Chiusure.
The best access is by car, and when one reaches the town there is parking available on the roads around the town, as well as at the abbey. Chiusure is 30 minutes south of Siena by car on the via Cassia (SR2) to Buonconvento, a very pretty drive, or via Asciano on the SP438. In both cases, you will take the SP431 for the rest of the way until you see a sign for a turnoff to Chiusure via the Strada Provinciale del Pecorile (SP60). Chiusure is between Buonconvento and Asciano - 6 km from Asciano and 8 km from Buonconvento.
SITA runs one bus on Linea 109/ A daily from Siena, leaving Porta Ovile at 13:58 (winter) or 14:12 (summer) and Porta Pispini at 14:01 (winter) or 14:14 (summer) and arriving at 14:50/15:05. However, the only bus returning to Siena from Chiusure leaves at 06:55 (regardless of season) and arrives at Porta Pispini at 07:44, thereby necessitating a night's stay in or very near Chiusure.
A local train runs to the stop in Asciano which is called “1 Asciano - M. Oliveto M.” (Asciano - Monte Oliveto Maggiore); another train goes to 2 Buonconvento. Then one can take a taxi (Cassioli, +39 0577 71 82 73 in Asciano; Lorenzetti, +39 0577 80 60 94 or Tistoni, +39 333 3584410 in Buonconvento).
If you have thoughts of hiking through the Crete Senese, plan carefully. The region is a semi-desert, without shade. Make sure to take plenty of water, especially in hot weather, and use a lot of sunscreen.
The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (Italian: Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore), an active monastery built in the 1300s which most famously includes beautiful frescoes by Luca Signorelli - Michelangelo's teacher - in the Cloister. There are also frescoes by the Sienese painter, Antonio Bazzi, called "Il Sodoma" ("The Sodomite"). After you've seen those, it's worth looking at the fine intarsial woodwork in the Choir.
The abbey sits approximately 110 metres below the hamlet on the hillside. It is a 1-km drive or a steep 1,600-step walk to the abbey from the centre of town, and if you climb down, you also have to climb back up, which is challenging on hot summer days. So if you are coming from the hamlet, you may prefer to take a short drive if you have a car. However, if you are coming from Asciano or Buonconvento, as most visitors do, you can drive right up to the abbey's parking lot if you have a car or walk uphill from the bus stop.
The beauty of the views in the area and the cypress-laden hills around the monastery encourage quiet contemplation and appreciation of nature. The Amant programme brings artists, authors and poets for a three-month studio residency in Chiusure, adding a new vitality to the village. The programme launched in summer 2020 and will return in May 2021 with more studio residencies and performance spaces; 2021 will also see the reopening of La Canonica Il Pozzo.
In the abbey, there is a souvenir shop at the bottom of the hill and an operating cantina. They sell wine and olive oil produced on the Monte Oliveto Maggiore property as well as many other natural remedies produced by the Benedictine monks in Orte.
In the town of Chiusure, there is a small grocery shop and cafe run by Lucia Gorelli and her husband.
Mocine Winery is 4 km from town on the road to Asciano. Mocine produces 25,000 bottles of wine annually and while selling in the area, also exports globally.
The town of Chiusure has a little restaurant called Paradiso which is open for lunch and dinner and serves classic Tuscan fare. There is also a restaurant on the edge of Chiusure called La Terrazza Osteria Pizzeria. La Torre Restaurant is at the abbey and is open every day but Tuesday.
There are a number of other great spots to eat in the area including the Canonica at Castiglion del Bosco between Buonconvento and Montalcino; the Castello, and Osteria Delle Crete in San Giovanni; and Amor Divino in Asciano.
The monks at the abbey produce wine and an herbal liqueur called Flora di Monteoliveto. It is for sale in the Liqueurery (Liquoreria) at the abbey and can also be ordered for delivery within Italy on the abbey's website.
- 1 Abbey of Monte Oliveto Hospitality, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The abbey provides accommodation for those seeking physical and spiritual rest; all are invited to take part in the liturgy during their stay. There is also a camping area next to the monastery, though that may be reserved for youth. If you plan on calling for reservations, do so between 09:30 and 12:00 or 16:00 and 17:30, every day except Sundays and Church holidays.