Set between the rock face and the sea, a short distance from the Grotta of the Annunciation, between Minori and Maiori, the monastery of San Franceso has seen a journey through the historic and religious life of the people of Maiori. In 1405, “some distance from the original town of Maiori, on the western slopes of the hills ( Torre), by the shore of the sea, the University of Maiori built the monastery, with seven cells in the eastern wing and three cells in the western wing, a dining room, a small kitchen with a small church and a choir for the use of seven brothers”. Imagine , if you will, a place far from the daily life of the inhabitants of Maiori, a place of retreat, of silence interspersed with the voices of fishermen as they sheltered their boats in the nearby cave. In 1435, the monastery was burned and sacked by the Turks of Mohammed II, as legend tells us. San Bernardino of Siena oversaw the rebuilding of the monastery. Through time the monastery has been subjected to sea storms, sacking and pillaging, however the community was determined to rebuild and to enrich the monastery with more and more works of art.
The church as we see it today, with rococo features, was inaugurated in 1783. However, its interior is enriched with works of art from several periods. These were donated by the wealthier, noble families of Maiori. The works of particular interest are: the chapel of the Staibano family built in 1511, the chapel of the Mezzacapo family 1530, the walnut choir donated by the De Ponte family in 1537, the marble mausoleum donated by the Imperato family in 1587. There are many paintings from the school of Andrea Sabatini of Salerno together with a splendid XV century Flemish composition of the crucifixion. The monastery houses many other works of art, copies of the grand masters of Vasari, Titian and Pietro de Cortona, to name a few.
The monastery is still host to a small community of monks together with a religious house of shelter. A stroll through the hidden rooms of the monastery, the miraculous fountain of San Bernardino, the cloisters and the antique quiet of the library may well create an oasis of serenity, just a few steps from the frenetic activity of daily life.
Excursions are also available and customized tours upon request for groups of 5 persons.
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