In the V century young Benedict spent three years as a hermit here. Traces can still be found in the Monastery of St. Benedict called “Sacro Speco”.
The name Subiaco comes from the latin expression “sub-laqueum” i.e. under the lakes: three lakes were artificially created by emperor Nero under the Simbruini mountains to enrich the landscape enjoyed from his magnificent suburban villa and purify the water. Later, the lakes and the villa disappeared (only few ruins are visible), but the area is still famous because a young man called Benedict moved there in the V century to live in a grotto as a hermit. He spent 3 years in solitude and then founded the first western religious order of monks, the Benedictines. Thirteen monasteries were built in the area and two are still intact and accessible to visitors. Romanesque cloisters, vivid frescoes, the amazing structures of the chapels and cells inserted or dug in the bare rock, wild nature and woods all around you… this is what you have to expect. And the “sacro speco”, the proper cave where Benedict lived, is still there with all its spiritual impact.
The nearby convent of Santa Scolastica, Benedict’s sister, is equally evocative. Moreover it preserves an important library with more than 300 ancient manuscripts and one copy of the very first book printed in Italy in 1465 (De Divinis Institutionibus by Lactantius). In fact two followers of Gutenberg moved here and installed in the monastery the first Italian print house.