The beauty of the Middle Ages in Calabria

The beauty of the Middle Ages in Calabria

One of the finest examples of the Calabrian Middle Ages is in San Giovanni in Fiore. We are in the center of the Sila Grande, halfway between Cosenza and Crotone.

Florense abbey

Florense abbey choir

The history of San Giovanni in Fiore and its name are closely linked to the figure of the famous abbot Gioacchino da Fiore.

He was born in Celico, and around 1189 the construction of a monastery and the new Florense order began. Once the works of the monastery were completed, the large church took the name of Florense Abbey.

The ancient medieval village of San Giovanni in Fiore gradually took shape around the Florense Abbey.

Even today its alleys and small houses all around the abbey offer a unique landscape of its kind.

The splendid Abbey represents the symbolic monument of the town of San Giovanni in Fiore and is the destination of numerous guided tours.

Near the Abbey, near the medieval pointed arch, there are some remains in the walls that represent what remains of several arches, erected in the village.

These arches constituted the gates of the city, beyond which one was immune from any punishment imposed by the Norman Judicial Court.

The historic center of San Giovanni has numerous testimonies of the art of stone working.

The architectural achievements testify to a real school of Sangiovannese stonemasons, active since the Middle Ages.

The wrought iron work on the balcony railings, the railings on the entrance doors, along the external and internal stairs of the houses are also appreciable.

The Abbey, in addition to being one of the largest religious buildings in Calabria, is the emblem of a cultural and spiritual tradition whose name is linked to the figure of Abbot Joachim of Fiore.

Gioacchino da Fiore, a great revolutionary prophet and man of profound faith, was born in Celico in the province of Cosenza between 1130 and 1135, into a wealthy middle-class family.

Joachim chose this place to build his Abbey as he considered it a peaceful area capable of transmitting spirituality.

In these years the monk matured the Florense order which was then recognized and approved by Pope Celestine III in 1196.

The church, built in the Romanesque style, conveys simplicity and power.

From the Gothic portal you enter the single elongated nave in bare stone and without decorations, culminating with the quadrangular apse whose back wall has a theme of tracery in seven openings.

The altar is in Baroque style and features a wooden statue of St. John the Baptist.

To the right of the altar, a staircase leads to the crypt with the urn of the remains of Joachim of Fiore, while to the left, on an altar, a reliquary houses the reconstructed body of the Abbot.

On a small side there are lithographs of the marvelous Liber Figurarum, a collection of figural theology symbolizing the prophetic thought of Gioacchino da Fiore.

Originally the monastic complex, in addition to the Abbey, included a series of buildings such as workshops, kitchens, carpentry, tool sheds and other buildings.

In the halls of the abbey there is the International Center of Gioachimiti Studies, opened in 1982 which aims to produce research and publications on the figure of Abbot Gioacchino, and his studies.

The Center wants to develop the interest in the studies and researches of the Calabrian abbot, who, together with Dante Alighieri and San Francesco d’Assisi, became the most studied author of Italian national culture.

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