The Chiaravalle di Fiastra Abbey, a Cistercian gem
Here is one of the most beautiful monastic complexes in Italy: the Chiaravalle di Fiastra Abbey, a gem of 12th-century architecture located in the Chienti Valley, in the province of Macerata.
The Cistercian style for composition – a harmonious mix of structural and decorative Romanesque and Gothic elements – is proved, as Medieval history expert Franco Cardini has explained, by the fact that “both the church and the monks’ living quarters were built according to the model designed by Bernard of Clairvaux: geometrical and mathematical elements, starting from the square, indeed mark every single building; great simplicity and the absence of decoration dominate.”
In 1142, twelve followers of the great Cistercian monk – who had founded the Abbey of Clairvaux in France, in 1115 – started building the beautiful complex (monastery, cloister and church of Santa Maria Annunziata); the construction went on for at least fifty years.
The twelve monks – almost all of them French, from the Abbey of Chiaravalle in Milan from which the Marche monastery depended – started a radical reclamation of the surrounding swamps, and even promoted, according to Cardini, “local financial and religious life, extending their properties and their control over other monastic centers, even outside of the region” (translated from F. Cardini, “L’Italia medievale”, Milan 2004).