Subiaco is a city in Lazio in Italy. The Benedictine Order originated here and the city is thus a major site for religious pilgrimage. The Emperor Nero built a villa here and the name of the town comes from the fact that he dammed the River Aniene to make lakes and the town was below the lakes or, in Latin, “Sublacus”. At the age of fourteen, in around 494AD, St. Benedict took up residence in a cave, where he stayed for three years. A monastery already existed in the area, but Benedict chose to live alone in the cave living only on scraps of food lowered in a basket by a monk. The cave, or grotto, became the cradle of the Benedictine Order and St. Benedict later built twelve other monasteries.

Get in

By car

From Rome take the E80 Autostrada in the direction of L’Aquila. Leave at Arsoli and follow the SS411 in a southeasterly direction to Subiaco.


A spiral stairway leads from just outside the Cave Chapel up to St. Gregory's Chapel, which contains some of the oldest frescoes at the monastery. The frescoes date from the early 13th century. In the corner is a full-length fresco of St. Francis of Assisi that was painted during his lifetime. St Francis is believed to have visited the monastery. From St. Gregory's Chapel, the Holy Stairs lead down to the Chapel of our Lady. The walls of the stairway are decorated with large frescoes, including one of Death, a skeleton with flowing hair riding a white horse. Another flight of stairs leads from Our Lady's Chapel to the Grotto of the Shepherds, where tradition says St. Benedict converted local shepherds to the Christian faith. The Monastery can be visited daily from 9.30-12.30 and 15.00-18.00. Admission is free. For more information

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