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THE ABBEY IS SITUATED AT THE FOOT OF MONTE CORVINO (circa 100mtrs asl) TUCKED AWAY BETWEEN NINFA AND SERMONETA.
It's a lovely complex. The church is plain but gives a sense of calm. The cloister is attractive but small with a well and trees in the central lawn area and mountains hovering above.
One room has been converted into a gallery with some very special pieces - including an etching by Canaletto, no less!
According to various sources the first monastic settlement was somewhere between 8th and 12th centuries AD, by Greek Basilian monks (monks who followed the 'Rule' of St. Basil the Great) and in the 13th century it was occupied by the Templars. In fact on the front of the abbey there is a rose window with a tiny Templar cross in the stonework, then inside the church there is another on the first step as you enter, and a third in the ceiling of the cloister.
There is a curious medieval legend about a Templar Grand Master called Jacques de Molay in relation to the abbey. It is told that when he was burned at the stake in Paris, in 1314, the chrurch's architraves broke.
Today the abbey belongs to Cistercian monks from the Casamari congregation. The name Valvisciolo remains a bit of a mystery - it could mean 'Valle dell'Usignolo' which means valley of the Nightingale (lat. vallis lusciniae), or 'Valle delle Visciole' which means valley of the wild cherry, or that the name was given by Cistercian monks who came here from another abbey near Carpineto Romano (now ruins).
As with all Cistercian abbeys the architecture respects the typical layout of having the various monastery buildings built around a central cloister - e.g. the church, refectory, dormitory, scriptorium and kitchen. The Cistercian abbey at Fossanova has an indentical layout but is larger in size and is now run by Franciscan monks.