The fresco ‘Il cenacolo del Sodoma’ The Last Supper by Sodoma, is so beautiful and powerful that it will immediately command all of your attention.
It’s controversial, offbeat and mysterious. Judas, sitting on the other side of the table of Jesus and all other apostles, is looking at you, trying to tell you something. But what?
That’s too personal to be explained. However, it’s definitely a message of protest. Saint Joseph, on the left side of Jesus, is alternatively known as ‘Maria Maddalena’ or Mary Magdalene, according to the woman who takes care of this little church, and who gave us a tour.
Some protest that the figure is a women while others advocate that it’s definitely Joseph, however, we couldn’t deny (including our guide), that the features of the cartoon (see below) are distinctly feminine.
That’s not a new story. If you look at the Sinopia (cartoon) of this fresco, the ‘feminine’ curves of the character leaning on Jesus’ shoulder are even more evident.
Judas looking at you is believed to be a self-portrait of the author: ‘Sodoma’. Make a guess about his vicious lifestyle, to deserve such a nick name.
If you want to see this masterpiece, from 1515-1516AD, you need to get out from the mainstream and touristic pathways of Florence.
The easiest access is from the park ‘Il Boschetto’ in Florence. Once you are in the park, you’ll find your way to the small church of San Bartolomeo a Monteoliveto, which is also a UNESCO heritage site.
You’ll notice many symbols, secrets and stories in this magical place.
The symbol of the Olivetans, seen below, it’s very similar to the old symbol of ‘Monte de Paschi di Siena’. This exemplifies how both founders have common origins.
The symbol of the Strozzi family can be seen everywhere in the church:
The fresco around the main painting over the altar contains a political message from the exiled Strozzi. Reading from left, to top to right: “have a humble attitude, and with the support of the angels, get to the glory”:
Let’s get to the wine pairing for this experience.
Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva – This wine comes from a mainstream area (Chianti Classico) and it’s a very old label, produced in the small town of Barberino Val d’Elsa.
It’s a blend made of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo e Colorino. 18 months in oak barrels and at least 3 months in the bottle.
It’s a masterpiece of colour, balance, and long-lasting scents. The flavours are supported by an incredibly elegant and silky feeling on the palate.
The colour is an Intense ruby-red. Cinnamon, black cherry tobacco and vanilla scents are all present. When you taste it, you’re immediately and positively surprised by its classy and silky feeling on your tongue and mouth. Usually you find this balance only on 50€ + Chianti classico wines.
You can find this bottle for less than 30 €.
A perfect pair for red meat. For example we paired it with a roast beef made of ‘Melino’ meat-cut. A fantastic taste, and very buttery.
A hidden treasure. You will immediately find the match between this wine and the mysterious look of Judas in the Sodoma’s masterpiece. A warm and intense feeling, that cannot be fully understood, but can be clearly perceived. It’s the same warm and intense feeling of the Sodoma’s stare in the fresco.
Sip this wine before or after the visit to the church of Monteoliveto, or simply look at these beautiful pictures that we took there. The messages that are hidden behind these frescos and paintings are coded in their colours, symbols and position.
If I am around, I would be happy to guide you there and obviously we will include a wine tasting with Monsanto Riserva either before or after the visit. Eventually in the park of Il Boschetto.
‘Blessed’ Beato Bernardo Tolomei of Simone Pignoni:
Assunzione di Maria of Domenico Passignano 1592:
Detail from the Assunzione di Maria of Domenico Passignano with the symbol of the Monaci Olivetani – Order of Our Lady of Mount Oliveto:
The baby saint reliquium – la ‘santa bambina’ a monte oliveto. In the background a copy of the ‘Annunciazione di Leonardo da Vinci‘ in its original position in the church of San Bartolomeo a Monteoliveto (Sala del capitolo).
A door from the 1500:
Fresco at the entrance of San Bartolomeo a Monteoliveto:
The view of Florence form the church of Monte Oliveto. A very particular view, with the Palazzo Vecchio facing the church. A curiosity: the facade of the church of San Miniato al Monte (near Piazzale Michelangelo) is perfectly aligned with the church of Monte Oliveto. San Miniato was the new residence of the monks Olivetani:
The entrance of the church of San Bartolomeo a Monteoliveto in Florence: