The Certosa di Pavia complex consists of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the large ducal court in front of the church facade, overlooked by agricultural buildings on the left and the Ducal Palace on the right, behind which the cloisters are located. The small cloister contains the buildings connected to the life of the monastic community and the large cloister, divided into 123 arches, houses the monks’ cells, which are presented as single units on two floors; some other service buildings are added, such as the guest quarters.
A Renaissance-style vestibule leads to the church, with three naves with apse and transept. Among the beautiful works of art of the Certosa di Pavia, frescoes and sculptures by Bergognone and Mantegazza.
The façade is also beautiful, begun by Solari and completed by Briosco, the author of the portal.
Of clear Gothic matrix, the upper part of it has never been completed and is richly decorated by the hand of Cristoforo Lombardo.
The Certosa di Pavia is a true concentration of paintings, frescoes and magnificent decorations. To see the polyptych by Perugino, the splendid figures on the walls of Guercino, Giovan Battista Carlone, Bergognone and Macrino d’Alba. Splendid is the triptych of the Embriachi, in ivory, signed by Baldassarre di Simone di Aliotto. In the presbytery you can admire the frescoes by Crespi and Cerano, as well as in the transept, where the tomb of Gian Galeazzo is located. In the Certosa there are also the tombs of Ludovico il Moro and Beatrice d’Este.
A portal decorated inside with sculptures made by the brothers Cristoforo and Antonio Mantegazza and outside by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, leads from the church to the Small Cloister in the middle of which there is a garden.
The small cloister was the place where most of the community life of the fathers took place: this connected, with its arcades, rooms such as the church, the chapter house, the library and the refectory.
From it you can see the side and the transept of the church, with the spires, the loggias in “neo-Romanesque” style and the tiburium.
Inside the small cloister there is the stone and terracotta washbasin, with the representation of the scene of the Samaritan woman at the well (third quarter of the 15th century).
Similar decorations, made by the same sculptors, are also present in the Large Cloister, about 105 metres long and 120 metres wide. Originally there were 23 cells. Structural interventions in 1514 increased their number to 36. Today they overlook the large cloister 24 cells or houses, homes of the monks, each consisting of three rooms and a garden. Next to the entrance of the cells, marked by letters of the alphabet, there is a small opening where the monk received his daily meal on weekdays, when solitude was prescribed. For community meals, which were only allowed on public holidays, people would meet in the refectory.
The columns of the arches, decorated with elaborate terracotta ferrules, with rounds and statues of saints, prophets and angels, are alternately in white marble and pink Verona marble.
The Certosa di Pavia, like the city centre itself on the Ticino, are candidates for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Oltrepò Pavese is a small hilly area, characterized by charming medieval villages, castles, fortresses and patrician residences, but also by a nature that invites you to walk in the woods, hiking, trekking.
There are many agritourisms, trattorias and restaurants that seem not to want to let travellers go.
A trip to Oltrepò is also a food and wine journey.
Here, as Cesare Angelini wrote, the air has the sweetness of grapes and must.
The hills are dedicated to the production of fine grapes from which DOC wines are obtained: Barbera, Bonarda, Sangue di Giuda, Buttafuoco, Pinot, Riesling, Cortese, Moscato, not forgetting the sparkling wine which in 2007 was also recognized as DOC.
The Wine Route crosses fascinating places: nature trails, rows of centuries-old vineyards that surround splendid 19th century villas and fortified villages. The food and wine route that unites the wineries is an excellent way to deepen the knowledge of the Oltrepò.
Along the way you will discover that in the Middle Ages the districts were linked to the vicissitudes of the feuds that administered them, and for each one you will see a castle. Some are in ruins, many are privately owned, only a few allow a visit; among them the fortress of Zavattarello is home to an exhibition of contemporary art.