Clara in Italy: Montecassino

So remember when I wrote an entire post about how much I hated the Cappella dei Principi? I spent some time later thinking about the decor because I do really love inlay work, but my professor mentioned that it was so overwhelming and contrary to her design aesthetics. I wondered if that was also playing into my general hatred of the space in addition to the horrible power dynamics.

But then we stopped at Montecassino on the way to Naples, and I think yes, there is something to it.

Here’s Montecassino:

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Or at least, a part of the courtyard. It’s hard to get a picture of it in totality. Montecassino is one of the first (or the first? I think) monasteries of the Benedictine order. It was basically razed to the ground by Allied bombing during WWII, but has been reconstructed.

But look at the interior of the church!!

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None of this is original of course, but it’s still really beautiful. And golden. Here’s where it gets really cool though–look at this stone inlay work!

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What!! It’s everywhere.

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But I really like it here as opposed to how much it gave me the really bad shivers in San Lorenzo. Somehow, it feels warmer, you know? I still have my bones to pick with Christianity (I never won’t), but this place is lovely.

Interestingly, there is still a Medici buried here.

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There he is. Piero the Unfortunate. (The Pieros of the Medici family really got the raw end of the deal when it came to being remembered, by the way. Piero the Unfortunate and Piero the Gouty. Yikes.) He was driven from Florence during the French invasion, but was eventually given this tomb here. Still a large, imposing, obnoxious Medici tomb, but you know. It’s a little different when you’re Piero the Unfortunate instead of Cosimo the Grandduke of Tuscany. :/ He didn’t even ask for this tomb. A later Medici pope (can’t remember which?) had it made for him.

Also, there are some bronze doors from Constantinople outside, which is pretty rad, though we couldn’t figure out if these were replicas or the real thing.

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That’s my art history professor being a nerd. She’s great.

What’s the point of this post? Honestly, I don’t know. I liked Montecassino. It felt serene and safe and magical. Even though it had similar decorative techniques to the San Lorenzo chapel (even similar motifs!), it was just. Nicer. Kinder maybe? Perhaps this is just because what I know of the two places informs my impressions, but anyways. I’d definitely recommend going to Montecassino over the Cappella any day.

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Stay determined.

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