The charming Cloister of Voltorre is in Gavirate, and it dates back to the Middle Ages. When it was built, it was part of the then thriving Benedictine Monastery of Voltorre, which, starting in the 12th century, was under the powerful Abbey of Fruttuaria. The first mention of a church in Voltorre dates back to a codex dated 1154 (a Papal privilege), but in fact, the church was dedicated to Saint Michael, whose cult was very popular at that time in the areas under Lombard domination. This leads us to believe that the church was built before the date in the codex. There are still some remains of this early building, which indicate two apses from the 5th and 6th centuries. Presumably, the Romanesque church was built on top of them in the 11th century, and the bell tower, which is quadrangular in shape, dates back to the 12th century. Most of the remaining structure is taken up by the Cloister behind the church, which was built in the 12th century by Lanfranco da Ligurno. The church was enlarged between 1600 and 1700, with the addition of a chapel, all in the Baroque style. Following the abolition of the monastic orders, during the age of revolutions, the Voltorre complex was divided up and used for various purposes, including private uses. It was only at the end of 1800’s that a slow renovation of its buildings began, which was suddenly interrupted by a fire in 1913. The work started again during the 1930’s, and ended with the acquisition of a portion of the monument by Varese Province, in 1954, to which the State-owned portion was added, in the 1970’s. Nowadays, the Cloister has become an exhibition centre and it is fully restored and open to the public.
The Museum of Modern Art
The Cloister is first and foremost a museum of itself and of Romanesque style in general, which can be seen in the permanent historical exhibition, in the stonework and capitals of the colonnade. As a Museum of Modern Art, its goal is to exhibit local collections that would otherwise not be accessible to the public, to provide a modern interpretation of phenomena and movements in modern art, and to re-discover the Lombard identity, with exhibitions and cultural events that focus on various aspects of the authors, artists, and collectors.
Varese – Land of Tourism