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Chiaravalle della Colomba

The Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba was founded, according to most historians, in 1136, by will of the people, of the Bishop Arduino from Piacenza, and of the lords of the manor Pallavicino and Cavalcabò. Saint Bernard, in charge of it, asked 12 monks from Clairvaux to come to Chiaravalle. The Abbey, built in the ?Bernardine? layout, has kept undamaged: the stately and simple church in bricks conveys, large and essential, allows to catch the original Cistercian spirit. The cloister galleries, complete in all sides, are the same that had been built in the XIII century. The vestry is decorated with a Crucifixion in the manner by Giotto, whereas the chapter house shows beautiful terracotta windows and in the monks' dormitory copies of medieval parchments about the history of the Abbey are displayed. In 1444 it was given in commendam and both the spiritual and the economic life of the Abbey suffered from this. In the 18th century an extension was built in the entrance, along the lay brethren's wing and in the backyard. In the church, the apse and some side chapels were decorated and a new baroque organ was placed. In 1810, following a decree by Napoleon, the monks were sent away: the church continued its function as a parish and the rooms of the monks were given to the Civil Hospices of Piacenza. The Cistercian monks of Casamari came back to Chiaravalle della Colomba in 1937. During the last years, all the premises have been restored and the Abbey appears now in all its beauty.

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