The 400-year history of the Capuchin convent of Monterosso

The Convent of the Capuchins in Monterosso looks to the open sea from the hill of San Cristoforo, between the beach of Fegina and the village that right here finds the origins of its historic core. The structure’s spectacular view and charm were ranked first in the FAI’s seventh national census of “Places of the heart 2014” with 110.341 reports. The number was never equaled by any other place or Italian monument.

These days, this extraordinary place celebrates 400 years of life (1628 – 2018) with a series of initiatives designed to make the Convent’s history and finance conservation and restoration projects necessary to maintain it.

On February 20, 1618, the Capuchin Friars symbolically settled by planting a cross on the lands of Castello and Buranco, donated to the order by the Municipality of Monterosso. About 4 years later, the convent building with its twelve cells was completed, with the adjacent church of the Immaculate Virgin and St. Francesco of Assisi and its churchyard. All around, gardens on different levels where lemons and vineyards were cultivated. From that moment on, the friars became a fundamental part of the community life of the seaside village, where they participated spiritually and materially.

The Convent had alternate fortunes. It closed due to Napoleonic laws in 1816 and again according to the Savoy laws in 1867. Pietro Benvenuto di Monterosso bought the complex and returned it to the friars; then again, the scarcity of friars in the last decade of the 20th century caused its desertion. Since 2006 the Convent has returned to its ancient function, as desired by Monterosso’s entire population.

View of the Punta Mesco from the Capuchins Conven in Monterosso

Today the structure promotes numerous activities to enhance the history and the artistic heritage hosted in the Convent. Among all, the “Crucifixion” attributed to Antoon Van Dyck, the San Girolamo penitent by Luca Cambiaso, the refectory with La Veronica by Strozzi, and the Convent itself, which over time maintained the original architecture. 

From the churchyard, one can admire the most evocative and spectacular views of the Cinque Terre, especially at sunset, perhaps the most beautiful time to visit this place.

A plaque on the staircase leading to the Convent recalls the frequent passage of the poet Eugenio Montale, who here loved to spend moments of peace and memory.

I went down, giving you the arm, at least a million stairs

and now that you are not here it is a void at every step

Can I Visit the Capuchins Convent in Monterosso?

The Convent welcomes the faithful for spiritual retreats. The friars also organize activities with the schools to visit the religious complex and the Gardens. 

On request, also guided visits can be organized. 

An aerial view of the Capuchin Convent in Monterosso – Ph. https://conventomonterosso.it/