Who is so brave to get closer to this charming Bernardino Luini’s?

Not far from Milan, there is a very picturesque little village, Chiaravalle Milanese, one of the first settlements of Cistercian monks in Italy. It is a peaceful neighborhood, where many elderly people live, and some chickens too. Here the time passes slowly.


A group of young people, however, decided to revive the village, organizing a campaign of urban regeneration that focuses on culture and creativity. Among their aims, for example, we will find the recovery of the old railway, as well as the construction of a tower that can be climbed to see the Abbey of Chiaravalle, in solitude.


The main attraction of this place is of course the Abbey of Clairvaux – in Latin Sanctae Mariae Clarævallis Mediolanensis, also known as Santa Maria di Roveniano. The architecture goes back to a church founded in 1135 by Bernard, Abbot of Cieaux, which over the centuries has undergone alterations and additions. Luca Beltrami restored the structure in 1894, other architects have subsequently been called to take care of the ancient building until the middle of the twentieth century.


The Abbey is considered to be an early example of gothic architecture in Italy, although it was also influenced by the late Romanesque and Romanesque style. Excellent frescoes by the Campi family and Fiammenghini decorate the interiors, along with two round bronzes attributed to Lorenzo Lotto, probably inspired by some Raffaello’s drawings. In the Chapel of the Passion, there was a painting by Bramante: “Christ at the Column”, a masterpiece of Renaissance art which is now preserved in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan (the one in the Abbey is a copy). The precious carved walnut choir is by Carlo Garavaglia (1645), while the frescos above it are by the Fiammenghini family (1614). An impressive fresco by Bernardino Luini is also preserved here, but it is at the top of a staircase, just in the right transept, and it is not always accessible. How many visitors of the exhibition dedicated to Luini currently at Palazzo Reale in Milan will be so brave to discover this charming place?

December 14, 2014