Monday, October 18, 2010

Chiaravalle Monastery, just outside of Milan


Whoever would think that a gorgeous Gothic period cloistered monastery exists just outside of Milan! Well, it does!...More......

Waves of the creation of monastic orders alternated with waves of their reform (oh, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak), and so it went with Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the charismatic leaders of the Cistercian reform in the 12th century. He founded the first Italian Cistercian monastery in 1135 right outside Milan, in the soggy plains, so good for growing crops and animal fodder (the monks needed to be self-sufficient).

The first church already had been substituted within a couple of decades (1150-1160, consecrated 1221), but remained very austere...no frescoes, no lamps, no candles, no sculptures, no nothin'.






That did get a bit tiresome, however, and so still severe decoration began creeping in on little cat's feet: a 14th century bell tower, ...






...post-Giotto frescoes ...



...and a courtyard with still austerely carved capitals, as well as a meeting room for the monks (a "Chapterhouse") in which, in the following century, a now famous "scratched" ("graffito") decoration was added, then, in the late 15th century, THE Bramante added another, larger, courtyard, but by then the course already was downhill rushing towards worldly austentation,...



...so obvious in these 17th century choir stalls, and so the church and monastery suffered the fate of so many in the Napoleonic period: closure.







The white-robed Cistercian monks finally returned in 1952, and have opened a little shop in the former visitor areas in front of the church. There, you can buy all sorts of treats and cures created by them and other monks.

If you don't happen to have cash, they accept ATM ("bancomat") cards....remember, too, whenever you visit a church in Italy to drop a hearty handful of coins in the collection box labeled for the maintenance and/or restauration of the church and its adjoining properties (some churches now even charge visitors coming as if the premises were a museum...I was shocked, at first, but, frankly, if you're not coming to pray, it's a good way to help them pay their upkeep bills, be generous).

I snapped these photos on Saturday, the 16th of October 2010 in the late morning.

To see the needlepoint diagram I created out of a photo of one of the (gorgeous) 14th century door jambs, go to my needlepoint blog: http://arsacupicturaestellae.blogspot.com/2010/10/milan-monday-11-door-jamb-from.html

3 comments:

BC said...

I really enjoy the architecture in Europe. Add in the history...

Margaret said...

Oh, a cloistered monastery. Sounds so exotic even though I don't think it is supposed to.

Star said...

More on Chiaravalle, see my: http://mymilanitaly.blogspot.com/
2012/01/more-chiaravalle.html

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