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! 😉
- Tigullio’s treasures you cannot miss: The Christ of the Abyss
- San Michele di Pagana: what to see?
- Tigullio: 5 free places you can’t miss
- Rapallo Castle, the symbol of the city, by the sea
- Tigullio: 10 (and more) reason for a Winter visit
- Tigullio: 5 curious things you need to know!
- Moneglia: 5 things you must (absolutely) see
- Love in Portofino: the very original song
- Portofino song: the TOP 5
- Why Focaccia is called Focaccia?
- Framura: what to see?
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.
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 Chiaravalle, Vallechiara, Valleverde 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.
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.
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 …
“ 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 “.