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The Abbey of Fossanova is in a medieval village in the Amaseno valley and takes its name from an ancient waste water drain called Fossa Nova. The church was founded on the remains of a Roman villa of the first century AD which was sold in 1134 by Pope Innocent II to some monks of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

The church is a perfect example of the transition between Romanesque and Gothic Italian and was consecrated in 1208.

The interior is stripped of frescoes according to the austere ‘memento mori’ of the Cistercian monks. Yet one must notice the magnificent rose window overlooking the front entrance.

Nearby is the room in the infirmary where St. Thomas Aquinas lived in the last days of his life. He died here in 1274 and is remembered in the church by a simple empty tomb (the body was transferred by the Dominicans to Toulouse in the fourteenth century).

Next to the church is the cloister, from where you can access all the other rooms and the refectory which houses a reading pulpit with its own ladder.

In the village, there are all the necessary requisites for the sustenance of the monks: workshops, warehouses, stables, etc. The entire centre was surrounded by high walls of which all that remains is the front door.


Traveller's Guide to Italy