Charterhouse of Garegnano – Milan’s “Sistine Chapel”.

Perhaps it is because it is located on the outskirts of the city of Milan that most Milanese have never heard of – and almost certainly have never visited – the old Charterhouse which Bishop Giovanni Visconti had built in 1349. This lack of knowledge is a shame, as the interior is remarkably reminiscent of the masterpiece that Michelangelo painted for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Here the frescoes mark the highest achievement of Daniele Crespi, a Mannerist master.

Depicting the history of the Carthusians, these paintings in which shades of white and purple predominate, reflect the Order’s main principles: purity and humility (white) and penitence (purple).

Also noteworthy is the painting of The Crucifixion in the apse. This is by Simone Peterzano, Carravaggio’s teacher, who also painted for the Charterhouse a Nativity and an Adoration of the Magi. The Charter Room is also worth a visit, if only to see the magnificent frescoes by the monk Biagio Belloti. Recent restoration work has also revealed a vault fresco of the Archangel Michael which has been attributed to Bernardo Zenale.

So, the next time you are in Milan, make certain you take the time to visit this glorious building – you will delighted, amazed and inspired.


(Adapted from Secret Milan by Massimo Polidoro, published by JonGlez)

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