The Abbey of Chiaravalle

Abbazia di Chiaravalle
Abbey of Chiaravalle. Photo: Silvio Berselli via Touring Club Italiano

The Chiaravalle Abbey with its famous Gothic tower and frescos (including among others the Goodnight Madonna by Bernardino Luini) enriching the monastic architecture, has become an emblem of the laborious spirit of the Benedictine monks who founded and still inhabit the Abbey. Built on the southern outskirts of Milan, over time Chiaravalle has become a part of the urban landscape of the city, reachable by a short car or bike ride, even possible – on particularly mild days – by foot.

Abbey of Chiaravalle
Abbey of Chiaravalle

In recent years, Chiaravalle has been at the forefront of a new approach to agriculture and farming, which has seen a growth of a number of new vegetable gardens, farms and cheese factories in the area. 

With a central role in a new approach to agriculture and farming, the area of Chiaravalle seems to be an experiment for contemporary urban planning, yet in fact it is a tradition that can be traced back through the history of the Abbey. It has contributed during the centuries to the development of its contiguous landscape by transforming the swamps that surrounds it into productive fields. The Benedictine monks, around the year 1000, invented the Grana Padano, a less famous and yet as important version of the parmesan cheese, while the Abbey Mill has served the community for generations. 

The Chiaravalle Abbey is a place to find severity and discipline, a locus amoenus where I often brought artists during foggy Milanese afternoons.

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FoodLombardyMilanReligious architecture