The Abbey of Piona – Colico (LC), Italy
The Abbey of Piona is Colico's flagship even though it is situated in the hamlet of Olgiasca, on the rocky point which leads down to the half-closed lakelet formed by a natural blockage. It was founded by the Cluniacensi friars around the Church of St. Nicholas. Is was built on the ruins of a chapel built by Bishop Agrippino of Como in the VII century. It was transformed during a secular commendam abolished in the 1700s and then reinstated at the beginning of the 20th century. Today the Abbey belongs to the Cistercensi friars of the Latium abbey of Casamari. The church dated XI century is not evenly built, it has one sole nave with a wood ceiling and is has two marble lions of the antique porch and fragments of 13th century frescoes tied to the Byzantine tradition. It is side by side with a bell tower which was rebuilt in the 1700s and with a beautiful cloister dated 1257 in which Roman architectural motifs overlap with gothic and other styles of art from beyond the Alps. The frescoes on the walls recall the figurative Byzantine art of the paintings inside the Abbey. A typical example is the unique subject of a frescoed representational calendar, in early gothic style, with images of saints and episodes of country life tied to the months of the year. The 40 small columns and the 4 supporting pillars end in capitals each one sculptured in a different way.