Voltorre, Chiesa di San Michele
With respect to the communication roads the present-day position of the Abbey of Voltorre does not render justice to the important role it played in the past. Although totally different is one's impression of the complex from inside the cloister, restored by the Province of Varese.
The Abbey is cited for the first time in 1154 in a document by Pope Anastasius IV (Pope from 1153 to 1154) in which its dependence on the Abbey of Fruttuaria is confirmed.
It was built on the site of an early medieval settlement, probably a Longobard (or even older) tower, as is also revealed by its being dedicated to St. Michael. The period of the monastery's greatest wealth - or we could simply say 'heyday' - lasted until the middle of the XV century when in following the more general decline of the Benedictine Order it fell prey to ineluctable decadence. And its patrimonial situation worsened considerably due to the monks' lack of discipline (indifferent to the administration of their possessions). Its patrimony continued to wither until 1519 when the monastery and its competency were ceded to the Lateran canons of Santa Maria della Passione of Milan. Under the direction of the Laterans the complex of Voltorre was transformed into an agricultural undertaking which it continued to be until its sale in 1797. From this date on the complex forfeited its monastic functions and was dismembered in various lots. The buildings were transformed into homes, farmhouses and deposits for agricultural tools and equipment.
It was only during the 1960's - and more definitively during the 1970's - that the cloister was restored thanks to the resolute intervention on the part of the Province of Varese. On three sides this cloister is made up of 46 columns with sculpted capitals whereas the fourth side has arches in brick. On entering the building the diversity of styles and materials immediately makes one aware of the complex history which characterized its construction.
Address: Piazza del Chiostro , 23