The cloister is the heart of a convent, monastery or abbey. Generally it is a square or rectangular courtyard surrounded on several sides by covered corridors, which open onto the central space with a series of arches, which give access to the main convent rooms. From the Latin claustrum, closed place, it indicated the space in which the monks isolated themselves from the surrounding world, walked, prayed, meditated or exchanged impressions with their brothers. Fortunately today the situation has changed. Many of these spaces can be easily visited. Here we propose an itinerary that will guide you to discover the most beautiful cloisters of Reggio Emilia and its province.
The Cloisters of San Pietro in Reggio Emilia
The Cloisters of San Pietro are part of a 16th century monastic complex, located in the historic center of Reggio Emilia. There are two: one of small proportions with a late fifteenth-century style and one with a large plan and mannerist taste. The small cloister, built between 1524 and 1525 by Bartolomeo Spani, is a building of refined simplicity, which constitutes an example of full adherence to Renaissance canons. Instead, the large cloister, built about sixty years later by Prospero and Francesco Pacchioni, presents a late mannerist appearance of great impact which with its grandeur literally leaves you speechless. Active and usable all year round, the cloisters currently host permanent activities, both of a cultural nature and of technological and social innovation.
The Convent of San Domenico in Reggio Emilia
The second stop on the itinerary is the Convent of San Domenico, one of the most evocative places in Reggio Emilia, located a few steps from the Cloisters of San Pietro. It was built in the first half of the 13th century and over time it was enriched with two monumental cloisters which retain in their appearance the aura of a highly original history. The larger one, dating back to the 16th century, overlooked the friars’ cells, while in the smaller one, located close to the ancient Dominican church, the past meets the contemporary of the sculpture “Less Than” by Robert Morris. In the passage between the first and second courtyard, two lunettes bear traces of seventeenth-century fresco paintings. Today the cloisters, other than being the headquarters of Istoreco and the Peri-Merulo Musical Institute, host an exhibition space dedicated to the languages of contemporaneity and youth creativity.
The Ghiara Cloister in Reggio Emilia
The next stop is the Chiostro della Ghiara, also located in the historic center of Reggio Emilia. Visitable from the entrance of the Ghiara Hostel, it is currently a meeting place where it is possible to enjoy cultural events, musical shows, exhibitions and taste the delicious specialties of Emilian cuisine. It is part of the structure annexed to the Basilica of the Beata Vergine della Ghiara, whose construction is linked to the miracle that occurred on 29 April 1596 when the young Marchino, deaf and dumb since birth, miraculously obtained speech and hearing while praying in front of an image of the Madonna painted by Bertone. The visit to the cloister and then to the basilica will allow you to admire precious masterpieces of the early seventeenth century in Emilia.
The Cloisters of the Hospital Court in Rubiera
Finally, the last stop on the itinerary is the Corte Ospitale di Rubiera, located a few kilometers from Reggio Emilia. The monumental complex, dating back to the 16th century, was one of the most important hospitals for pilgrims that stood between Secchia and Enza along the Via Emilia. Today it is an open and inhabited space that aims to be a generator of creative and cultural processes, both for the artists it produces and hosts in residence, and for the area that surrounds it. At the entrance you can admire the main cloister (which hosts the theater festival L’Emilia e una notte in summer), and then discover a second cloister, smaller in size.
Photo © Cloisters of San Pietro
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