The church and the abbey of Santa Maria of Finalpia
A prestigious Benedictine abbey in Valpia
The church and the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria in Finalpia are part of one of the most important monastic centres of Liguria from a religious and artistic point of view.
A first church that was dedicated to the Madonna is documented in the valley of Pia in 1170 when its confirmed that along with two mills it belonged to the Benedictine abbey of San Quintino di Spigno.
The importance of the medieval church is testified by the majestic bell tower in Finale stone with three orders of mullioned windows and a tall octagonal steeple, that are dated to the 13th century.
What remains of the late medieval religious building are only some gothic arches with columns and capitals in Finale stone that are preserved in some rooms situated between the 18th century apse and the sacristy.
MORE INFORMATION – The church and the abbey of Santa Maria of Finalpia
A Finale Stone tondo with a bas relief representing the Madonna and Child, set in an entrance of the abbey in Via Santuario, recalls the interventions carried out in 1463 by Viscontina Adorno, wife of Giovanni I Del Carretto.
In 1474 Biagio Galeotto Del Carretto, after coming of age and taken power over the Finale marquisate, sent a plea to Pope Sisto IV Della Rovere asking for the concession of the ancient monastery to the Olivetan monks, that took possession of it after three years. In this way the new abbey was founded and entrusted to the reformed Congregation of Monte Oliveto. The congregation was created in the previous century by the noble Sienese Bernardo Tolomei (1272-1348) and rapidly spread out in Tuscany and in the rest of Italy with a rapid multiplication of new foundations.
In the first decades of the 16th century, thanks to the generosity of the Del Carretto family, the Olivetan church was enlarged and provided with new decorations, of which the wooden choir and the inlaid frames, made by friar Antonio da Venezia. In the sacristy magnificent wardrobes with wooden inlays were made (1534-1535).
Directly from Tuscany came Giovanni Della Robbia (1520-1525) and Santi Buglioni (1530-1535) polychrome glazed terracotta sculptures. Friar Angelo da Albenga commissioned in 1530 to the Sienese Bartolomeo Neroni known as “il Riccio” (The hedgehog) illuminated choir books that are currently preserved in the Berio Library in Genoa.
In those years, along with the large dormitory and monastic areas with the chapter room and the large refectory, two cloisters with Finale stone columns started to be built. The construction of these had remained unfinished until 1921 where the 16th century style of the capitals and corbels was reproduced.
The present church is the result of a radical reconstruction into a single-hall based on architect Girolamo Venezianos, known as “il Fontanetta” project that started in 1724 and finished in 1729 with a rich façade decorated with stucco.
On the sides of the high altar, a gift from the Prasca family in 1728 and in which a painting of the Virgin and Child, that is attributed to Nicolò da Voltri (1420 circa), and two large paintings that represent the visit of Charles V and Pope Clement VII were inserted.
In 1940-43 the Benedictine Father Leandro Montini, taking inspiration from the great 14th -15th century Tuscan painters, decorated a great series of frescos dedicated to the liturgical year in the monastic chapel that is placed on the level of the large dormitory on the first floor of the monastery.
HOW TO REACH
THE CHURCH AND THE ABBEY OF SANTA MARIA OF FINALPIA
How to reach the site
The abbey can be easily reached by the Via Aurelia.
Bookings for tours are available as part of the “Open door Open art” Project endorsed by MUDIF.
Guided tours on free offer
Guided visits on weekdays on request. (9.00-12.00; 15.30-17.30)
Calendar of visits