One of my favorite place in Florence surroundings is the Chartreuse of Florence, where I used to visit the beautiful Christmas crèche during holidays and go to the mass every Sunday with my father.
The story of Florence Chartreuse
The chartreuse was founded in 1341 by Niccolò Acciaioli, a noble Florentine Grand Seneschal of the Kingdom of Naples. It is located on Monte Acuto, also called Sacred Mount, delimited by rivers Ema and Greve. Over the centuries it was enlarged and modified, as well as enriched with several works of art.
Originally the chartreuse was owned by Certosini monks that were then replaced in 1958 by Cistercian monks and that are still living and working there, following the strict rules of cloistered life.
What to see
Even though Florence Chartreuse isn’t the largest in Tuscany, it’s a large complex made of several buildings. The picture gallery is plenty of works of art such the five frescoes by Pontormo, who lived here for a while between 1523 and 1525 to escape to a terrible plague. The frescoes, originally placed in the main cloister, depict the Christ Passion. You can also admire a beautiful Madonna with child and Saints by Perugino ad other Renaissance paintings, as well as the collection of portraits of important figures from 17th century.
Then there is the large square of the Church of San Lorenzo. The Church dates back to 14th century but was transformed during 16th century, when also the facade was realized in serena stone by Giovanni Falcelli. It’s divided into two different areas, one dates back to 14th century and the other to 16th century. Inside there is a beautiful frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti depicting important figures related to the Certosini order. Stunning the wooden choir, richly decorated that is a unique piece.
The meeting area, the colloquio in Italian, is the area where the monks met to talk once per week. It’s a long corridor enriched by colorful glass windows. The main cloister is a large green area and is the heart of the chartreuse. On the cloister overlook the 18 monks’ cellars, that are proper apartment where the monk lived all his life in silence, loneliness and prayers. You can see a small door next to the main one that was used to serve the food to the monks.
The tour continues to the refectory, used only during holidays and the small cloister where the priests lived. Unfortunately some areas are closed to the public, such as the large library where there are lots of rare books.
The chartreuse is open to the public almost every day. Entrance is free but for guided tours I recommend you leave an offer to the monks. Guided tours are done in winter from Tuesday to Saturday at 9am, 10am, 11am, 3pm and 4 pm. On winter Sundays and holidays tours are at 3pm and 4 pm. In summer guided tours are from Tuesday to Saturday at 9am, 10am, 11am, 3pm, 4 pm and 5 pm. On summer Sundays and holidays are at 3pm, 4 pm and 5 pm.
In the chartreuse there is a small shop where you can buy typical products made by the monks, such as honey candies, perfect for throat-ache and liquors.