One of the most important Benedectine Abbeys in Abruzzo, San Giovanni in Venere lies a little distance from Fossacesia (CH) on a rock sorrounded by olive trees, with a wide view on the Adriatic below.
The Abbey of San Giovanni in Venere is an easy to get to place that will take about 2-4 hours for a complete walk through. The outside grounds are filled with gardens and there is a semi secret path along the south side. (The side with the sea view towards Fossacessia) that after about a hundred meters you will find yourself on a cliffside overlook of the Trabocchi Coast.
“The majestic, austere inside is divided into 3 aisles surmounted by round arches. The sanctuary is high on a platform which can be reached climbing 14 steps Below the sanctuary there is an important crypt, built with Roman columns probably taken from the temple to Venus. The three apses in the back of the crypt are covered with great frescoesThe central fresco shows Christ in throne surrounded by angels, with a book on his left where the words “ego sum lux mundi, via veritatis, vita” are written. On one side John the baptist has the inscription “Ecce agnus dei ecce qui tollit peccata mundi”, on the other side John the Gospel writer. The most beautiful is however the fresco in the apse on the right, by Luca di Pallustro from Lanciano, commissioned by Abbot Oderisius II one century before Cimabue and Giotto, which shows together with a great color technick a simplicity and tenderness never before recorded in painting. The fresco shows a Virgin Mary with Child sitting on a chair, surrounded by St. Nicholas from Bar and st Michael the archangel dressed in white and red with multicolored wings.” (From Italy Heritage)
Continue through a small door on the left wall (when facing he altar) and you will enter into the splendid courtyard with enclosed halls on three sides that have beautiful open beam ceilings. Artists frequently come here to study perspective drawing. The courtyard itself is a classical Italian garden space. You will also find some ancient archeological relics from the first temple of Venere Conciliatrice. (Likely the same Roman Venus)
The Temple of Venus
The decorations on the outside, as it can be seen today, can be dated to the years 1204 1230, after the death of Odorisius II. The peculiar, asymmetric facade of the church, shows a rich marble portal of Apuleian influence, called “portale della Luna”, sided by two pillars: in the one on the right there are representations of Daniel in the den of the lions, the Archangel Gabriel and Zacharias, while in the left pillar there is an annunciation, Saint Anna, St John the Baptist, and two peacocks drinking from a vase. In the lunette above the portal there is a high-relief with John the Baptist, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. There are two other portals, different between themeselves, on both sides, the work of Maestro Alessandro, whose name is carved in the stone. (From Italy Heritage)