PECORARI, Francesco
(active 1300-1340 in Lombardy)

General view

Bell tower, Abbey church, Abbazia di Chiaravalle, Milan

The Chiaravalle Abbey is a Cistercian monastery officially founded in 1135 by a group of monks from the Abbey of Citeaux in France. It is one of the earliest examples of Gothic architecture in Italy, notwithstanding its Romanesque and late Romanesque elements.

The construction of the present church began in the 1150s and lasted until 1221 when the church dedicated to St. Mary was consecrated. During the 13th century, the work continued for building the first cloister, located south of the church. Later, in the 14th century, the crossing tower by Francesco Pecorari and the refectory were realized.

The crossing tower (bell tower) or Ciribiciaccola – a name taken from a popular nursery rhyme in Milanese dialect – rises up starting from the lantern, at a height of 9 metres, with two octagonal sections, which later assumes a conical shape. From here to the end of the cross, positioned on a world map, it reaches a height of 56 metres. The bell tower houses the oldest Ambrosian-mounted bell system that is still manually operated by the Cistercian monks.

The seemingly early-fourteenth-century octagonal lantern towering above the crossing of the modest abbey church owes its detail to the tradition of Lombardy. Despite the extraordinary proportional relationship to the church beneath, its very multiplicity of storeys, windows, and arcadings, its textural and colouristic richness, create a feeling of exuberance.

The photo shows the bell tower seen from the cloister.