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Abbey of Viboldone

Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Foto Abbey of Viboldone -  Churches / Religious buildings
Show an other treasure of art and history in Milan:
Milan - Churches / Religious buildings: Abbey of ViboldoneMostly represented styles: Gothic - Renaissance

The Viboldone Abbey is located just outside the city borders. Like many other monuments of Milan it enjoys a popularity far lower than it deserves.
Located in a small farming village, it has suffered many years of neglect and only recent restorations have returned the splendid frescoes that enrich the interiors to their original splendor.

The church, whose exact name is Church of San Pietro in Viboldone, has preserved almost intact its aspect that appeared already in the middle of the fourteenth century. It is part of the Viboldone monastery, founded in 1176 by the order of the Humiliated, a brotherhood founded in Lombardy and which played a major role not only in the religious history but also in the economic history of Milan and as well of the nearby cities.

The construction of the church began on the end of the twelfth century, starting from the aps.
The construction ended in 1348 (although several frescoes were painted only in the following decades) as evidenced by a tombsotone affixed on the front and by an inscription on the right half-column of the facade.

The style of the church is Romanesque, with elements of transition to Gothic. Its planimetry is that of a simple rectangular plan.
The back of the church is divided into three rectangular chapels. The middle one, with the chorus function, is wider and protrudes a little bit from the rectangular plan of the building. It is divided from the two chapels beside it by thick walls.
All three apse compartments are covered by cross vaults without ribs and the vaults are of identical structure, although the chapels in themselves are of different heights, with the central one higher. The choir is illuminated by two two narrow single lancet windows.
The division of the back part of the church into three compartments corresponds to the division of the body of the church into a nave and two aisles.
The first span from the bottom serves as non-projecting transept and is divided into three square areas. Also in this case the three vaults have identical proportions. The transept, however, is much higher than the apse area.
The body of the church includes four spans for each nave. These are divided by low brick columns with cubic capitals and follow the same proportions of the transept.
The bell tower was probably built in the same period of the aisles, i.e. in the second half of the thirteenth century. It is placed in an unusual position, namely directly above the vault of the chorus. Note the perfectly conical tip of the bell tower.
The last phase of the construction works of the church comprehended the erection of the façade. This is squeezed between two buttresses and divided vertically by two halfcolumns. It contains several windows: two narrow single lancet windows decorated by elegant terracotta frames, a large circular window, just above the entrance door and adorned with a marble frame, three double lancet windows, two of which are in fact fake windows, because behind them there is nothing but the sky.
The facade contains a single large entrance door (Photo 10), of solid wood, contemporary of the facade and surrounded by a large marble profile. It is flanked by two elaborately decorated hanging aedicules. In the lunette above the door there are marble statues of the Virgin with Child and of the Saints Ambrogio and Giovanni from Meda. Statues of the Saints Peter and Paul are located instead in the aedicules.

The decoration with frescoes of the interior, the work of several artists, began in the mid-fourteenth century. The frescoes are concentrated in the upper part of the church.
In the following the most important ones.

  • On the wall above the entrance arch to the apse there is a Madonna Enthroned with Saints, of the year 1349 and attributed to a Tuscan master near Giotto (large photo).
    On the other three walls of the span there are a Last Judgment, a Procession of Saints, the Apostles on Throne and the Doctors of the Church.
    The Last Judgement, a masterpiece attributed to Giusto de Menabuoi, resumes, in a simplified manner, the scheme of Giotto's fresco of the same name in the Scrovegni Chapel. The work was completed shortly after 1349.
    The entire ceiling of the first vault starting from the presbytery (Photo 4, 8) is decorated with frescoes, attributed to an anonymous Lombard painter active in the second half of the fourteenth century, depicting the life of Christ, including the Annunciation and the Crucifixion. Under the latter, two rounds with Adam and Eve.

  • In the first right span frescoes of the middle of 1300, unfortunately in part lost, depicting the Madonna Enthroned and Biblical Stories.

  • In the second right span (Photo 5, 7) frescoes of the end of 1300 with among others the symbols of the evangelists and the prophets.

  • A Madonna Enthroned, with Saints, is also present in the first right span, it dates back to 1395 and is attributed to Michelino da Besozzo.

The first three spans of the nave show in the apex the sign of a Greek cross surrounded by colorful sunrays inside a circle, the trinitarian divine rainbow that symbolizes the friendship between God and men.

The subsequent epochs have left just few traces. Among them some baroque altars and frescoes on the walls of the aisles.

Since 1941, the abbey is home to a community of Benedictine nuns.
The restoration of the frescoes began in 1898, continuing between 1903 and 1906 and again between 1960 and 1971.

Finally, it has to be remembered the Music Room on the first floor of the building flanking the church, containing a unique pictorial evidence of musical instruments in use in Milan in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century.

Other pictures on the Google+ page

If you are interested in a guided tour of this monument send an email!

Categories: Churches / Religious buildings


Via dell'Abbazia 7, 20098 San Giuliano Milanese