Everybody knows of course the cathedrals of Italy, usually built in the main square of every major town. Even Italians however often ignore the beauty of the not-so-minor churches dotting the countryside, such as the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, in the province of Latina. Today it is generally mentioned as the dying place of Saint Thomas of Aquina, one of the founding philosophers of Medieval Catholicism. Before that, however, it was a sort of ideal prototype of the early Burgundian gothic style.
Translated in layman terms, the abbey is very, very imposing and very, very stark. The motto of the Cistercian order was ‘memento mori’, or “remember you will die”, and their cheery disposition guided all their choices – including the one to keep their temples solid and uncluttered. The abbey was inaugurated in the year 1208, and today it still is mostly like in that day. Huge spaces, a silent cloister, and a sort of unreal perfection.