This exquisite Romanesque abbey of pale yellow stone nestles serenely in a valley amid vines and olive groves at the foot of the village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, 9km (6 miles) south of Montalcino. Legend has it that the first stone here was laid on the order of Charlemagne in A.D. 781, after an angel cured his plague-stricken entourage on a journey from Rome. While that story is debatable, the monastery does date to the 8th century and may have once housed the relics of namesake Saint Anthimus, an early Christian priest. Near the entrance is a charming medieval relief of the Madonna and Child, and carvings of mythological animals and geometric designs surround the doors. Inside the columned interior, the carving continues; look on the right side for an intricate depiction of Daniel in the lion’s den. In the chapel, 15th-century frescoes by Giovanni di Asciano show scenes from the Life of St. Benedict, rich in earthy detail (one scene features two blatantly amorous pigs). A well-marked cross-country hiking trail to the monastery from Montalcino takes about 2 hours. For a quicker return, ask for a bus timetable at Montalcino’s tourist office.