The Abbey of Fossanova, dedicated to St. Mary, is a jewel of Cistercian architecture with Romanesque and Gothic elements built at the end of the 12th century in a valley at the foot of the Lepini hills between contemporary Priverno and Sonnino (LT).
In accordance with austere Cistercian dictates, the Abbey has almost no pictorial decoration although the facade has identifying features such as a large rose window, an octagonal bell tower with two levels of double windows and finely sculpted capitals. The cloister dates to between the 14th and 15th centuries.
The church, whose entrance abuts the remains of a Roman villa dating to 1st century BCE, is famous as the place where St. Thomas Aquinas spent the last years of his life. The cell where the Dominican saint died in 1274 is today a chapel and can be found on the second floor of the monks’ infirmary.