If you'd like to visit a working monastery, head to the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Croce at Fonte Avellana, just across the Umbrian border into le Marche region. Home to Camaldolese monks, the monastery was built in 980. Visitors can take a regularly scheduled one-hour guided tour (request ahead for tour in English) and even eat lunch there by prior reservation (popular on Sundays and holidays). There's also a bar/cafe with many types of herbal teas and a special liquor made by the monks and a shop where you can buy products from the monastery.
On the tour you'll visit the scriptorium, the room where monks used to transcribe manuscripts, with windows designed to let in light at all times of day and a system to tell dates using the sunlight projected onto the floor from a small opening in the wall. Also on the tour are the old chapel and the newer church.
Five tours are scheduled Monday - Saturday while on Sundays tours are offered every half hour from 10:00 - 12:00 and 14:30 - 18:00. Check the Visite guidate schedule (in Italian) for current times and see map for location. Read more about Fonte Avellana Monastery in English.
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