From the empire to Europe
From a geographical point of view the Italian Peninsula can be considered as an extension of the European continent in the Mediterranean basin.
Over the centuries Italia has been a crossroads of people who met thus generating intense exchanges and evocative innovations.
In the Early Middle Ages
In the Early Middle Ages migratory flows occurred in areas where the cultural background was represented by the Roman legal institutions and the centers of knowledge such as schools and monasteries. This encouraged innovative artistic processes both on aesthetic and technical level.
The town of Pavia
Founded in the first century B.C. as a Roman municipium the town of Pavia is located in a central position between the European continent and the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover Pavia was situated at the intersection of the most important land and water routes from the British Isles to Rome (Via Francigena), from Bordeaux to Jerusalem ( gerosolimitan itinerary), from east and north to Finisterre (Route to Santiago de Compostela).
The Ticino river
Overlooking the river from which it took the name of Ticinum, Pavia was the seat of the political power alternately with the nearby Milan from late antiquity until the end of the Visconti-Sforza age, first with Odoacre (476-493) and Teodorico (493-526), then with the Lombards (572-774), the Carolingians, the Saxons and the Ottonis (774-1024), as capital of the Italic Kingdom.
It was therefore also an important commercial center where precious and rare goods were exchanged from the East through the Mediterranean, Venice and the Po river.
Royal and imperial monasteries
Within this historical context two important monastic complexes, San Pietro in ciel d'oro and San Salvatore, situated just outside Pavia, had an important role. These complexes were built thanks to the iniziative taken by Lombard kings and were developed in the Ottonian age. These complexes became foundations of great importance along a period of time that exceeds the medieval age.
San Pietro in ciel d'oro and Saint Augustine
King Liutprando (690 ca - 744) established a monastery in the church of San Pietro along the ancient road that leads to Mediolanum. The relics of Saint Augustine, Doctor of the church and great philosopher and teologian, were transferred from Sardinia to this church.
San Pietro in ciel d'oro and Severino Boezio
The church, which also preserves the mortal remains of the Roman philosopher and senator Severino Boezio, became a pilgrimage destination.
It hosted synods and councils, enjoyed the favor of the royal court and then of the empire and became one of the residence of the court itself after the destruction of the ancient Palatium in 1024, residence of Theodoric, the Lombard kings and the Carolingian and Ottonian kings and emperors, up to Henry II.
San Salvatore
The other great monastery of San Salvatore also enjoyed the favor of the royal and of the imperial court and became another occasional residence of the court itself after the destruction of Palatium in 1024. San Salvatore was located just outside the western walls of the town.
From the mausoleum to the monastery
On the site an ancient Lombard cemetery was originally situated where King Ariperto I (653-661) had placed the mausoleum of his royal family. Later on a male monastery was established, which in the second half of the tenth century benefit from the attentions of the empress Adelaide, wife of Otto II.
The project
Taking into consideration the central role of Pavia in the European medieval scenario, it seems strange that all this material, architectural and artistic Heritage connected with those historical events is little known to the public, and for certain aspects also to scholars.
Participants to the project
In 2017 the ``L'Italia Fenice`` association decides to finance the project ``Pavia - The Imperial Monasteries`` to promote the knowledge of the historical events of the complexes of San Pietro in ciel d'oro and of San Salvatore in Pavia through the use of modern survey techniques that will complete archival documentation and previous bibliography.