Valle Christi Monastery

Valle Christi Monastery in Rapallo

Italian Version 🇮🇹

Valle Christi Monastery in Rapallo: between ruins and legends..

✅ Before starting with the reading, we put below some really interesting links, always on Rapallo and its surroundings. Take a look! 😉

The “Monastery of Valle Christi” was built in 1204 in Rapallo (in today’s hamlet of Santa Maria del Campo), at the behest of two Genoese noblewomen: Altilia Malfanti and her sister Tibia.

They wanted to find tranquility and shelter from the cruel struggles that were being fought in Genoa, between supporters and opponents of the Barbarossa.

Therefore, they suggested the construction of a convent for nuns of the Cistercian Order, with the intention of retiring there themselves, in monastic life.

Monastero di Valle Christi a Rapallo
The Valle Christi Monastery -Photo by Marilì Canessa, from the Facebook Group

The choice of the name, Valle Christi, is probably a tribute to the main monasteries of that order, which arise in places with names such as ChiaravalleVallechiaraValleverde or Altavalle .

Cistercian nuns, lived in the monastery for almost three hundred years, including illustrious names, such as Carinzia Visconti  (nephew of Pope Gregory X ) and earned a reputation for industriousness and holiness.

Rapallo, Monastero Valle Christi
View of the Monastery, photo by Maurizio de Mattei from our Facebook Group

The monastery had a notable development in the following years: the relic of San Biagio was venerated in the church, probably donated to the nuns by a Genoese captain, following Gaspare Spinola, in the successful expedition of 1380.

How was life in the monastery?

In the moment of maximum splendor and efficiency, the structure included a ground floor for agricultural use .

But also cellars, pantry, kitchens, canteen and lodgings for 20-30 nuns. 

Over the years, however, the number of occupants decreased more and more, both because of the isolation of the place (the hamlet of Santa Maria del Campo is about 3 km from the center of Rapallo), and because of the harmfulness of the place.

Valle Christi rises in a very humid and not very sunny place, which favors the growth of mosses and other lichens. Many of them, in fact, asked to be transferred elsewhere.

Valle Christi Rapallo
In the direction of San Massimo a Rapallo, Il Monastero is on your left

The last nuns, lived here until 1568. 

With the “decree of suppression”, Pope Pius V, decided to desecrate the monastery, ending its unstoppable decline.

There is a raw 👻 legend about the Valle Christi Monastery …

Some say..

“ that one of these women fell madly in love with a shepherd and, failing her chastity, became pregnant. For this she was severely punished, walled up alive in a cell with her newborn baby. Some nights, you can still hear an excruciating lament coming from the walls and stones of the ancient monastery “.

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