Leaving Milano through the Porta Romana, after a short ride we suddenly stop and we are in open country. Just 7-8 Km far from the Duomo stands the abbey of Chiaravalle, over which looms its tall tower, which the Milanese have affectionately called “Ciribicciacola”.
The Abbey was founded in 1135 in a swamp area south of the city by Cistercian monks (the name comes from the founding place of the order, the French Citeaux, Cistercium in Latin), sent there a year earlier by the spiritual leader of their order, Bernard, the future S. Bernard of Clairvoux, who gave the Knights Templar their canon.
The church we see now was built in 1150, on the sight of the first simple church, perfectly oriented east-west, as all the Cistercian abbeys.
Along with building the abbey the monks dedicated themselves to drainage of the terrain, which permitted the usage of the abbeys lands for cattle, that eventually allowed a milk production far superior to their needs.
So the monks devised a special way of conserving the milk and invented a new variety of cheese which was later called Grana Padano, thanks to natures biochemical processes, which at the time where looked upon as mysterious alchemies.
The building of the tower dates to the years 1329-40, and was probably the work of Francesco Pecorari, from Cremona.
In 1490 the great Bramante works on Chiaravalle: the cloister, the capitulary and some paintings.
From this moment on many masterpieces of art took life in the abbey, from the Flemish fresco paintings from the XVI and XVII century, to the wonderful wooden chorus, worked by Carlo Gravaglia between 1640-45;
from Bernardo Luinis “Madonna dell Buona Notte” (XVI century) to the Baroque main altar; from the XVI century paintings kept in the sacristy, to the remaining wall painting which depicts Guglielmo I da Rizzolo, Archbishop of Milan Between 1230 and 1241
The visit includes the old Mill.
It is possible to hold an aperitif/cocktail or other functions at the old Mill.