Cloister – Photos © Stefanoma
The Monastery of Chiaravalle della Colomba lies not far from the Via Emilia. Its foundation can be credited to the extraordinary activity of Saint Bernard.
The reference to colomba or dove is sometimes attributed to a legend that tells of how the perimeter of the monastery was indicated to the monks by a white dove using pieces of straw, but perhaps it refers more simply to the mystery of the Annunciation, and so in harmony with Cistercian spirituality.
The Church of Chiaravalle is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. The Romanesque layout with nave and two aisles extends upwards following a scheme that indicates a transition towards Gothic precepts, ahead of its time. Saint Bernard, enemy of the ridicula monstruositas of the medieval bestiary, imposed an essential architectural style, without sculptures or decorations. The central nave is formed by four large bays and the sacred edifice terminates – in conformity with the abbey model – with the choir and transept.
Set against the right-hand aisle of the church is the perfectly-preserved XIII-century cloister which one may enter. It is square in shape and each side measures approximately forty meters. Each gallery (or side) is divided into eight spans covered by cross-vaults with thin ogives that descend onto ledges and circular keystones bearing plant and animal motifs. The vaults are reinforced from the outside by strong buttresses, in line with the transverse pointed arches that mark the spans, whose bases rest on pedestals which are interrupted to allow access to the central garden.
LOCALITY: Commune of Alseno, 35 Km from Piacenza
OPENING PERIOD: yearly opening
OPENING HOURS: Weekdays: 8.30 am-11.30 am and 2.30pm-5.30pm (last admissions 5 pm.)
Weekends and holidays: 8.30am-12.00am (last admissions 11.30 am) and 2.00pm-6.00pm (last admissions 5.30 pm)
PRICE TICKETS: Donations welcome
SERVICES: Guided tours by booking tel.+39.0523.940132
ADDRESS: Loc. Chiaravalle della Colonba – 29010 Alseno (Piacenza)
WEB SITE: www.comune.alseno.pc.it
Courtesy of www.castellidelducato.it