One of Milan's overlooked sights is the Chiaravalle Abbey on the city's south side. The monastery and church was founded in 1135 by St. Bernard, a French theologian and abbot who is recognized as a saint by the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches. The church was placed in a location outside the city at the time, near the Porta Romana, for tranquil reflection and dedication to prayer. There were lands for cultivation for the monks to be self-sufficient.

The church was started in 1135 and consecrated in 1221, though it underwent additions and embellishments for a few centuries. The first cloister and ornate bell tower were added, then in 1439 another larger cloister, designed by Bramante, was built. The interior was decorated with frescoes in the 1500s. The complex is a fine example of a monastic community, still home to the Cistercian monks who offer hospitality and to all who come. They operate a monastery store, called La Bottega dei Monaci, selling products like honey, jams, digestives and liqueurs, herbal teas and tinctures, and natural soaps and cosmetics.

The complex is part of the so-called Valle dei Monaci (Valley of the Monks) and is connected to the Parco Agricolo Sud Milano (south Milan agricultural park) with biking and walking paths.

The Chiaravalle Abbey is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 AM til 12:00 PM and from 2:30 PM til 5:30 PM . It is open Sunday from 2:30 PM til 5:30 PM. Closed Monday.

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Address in Milano:

Via Sant'Arialdo, 102.

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