The Choir of the Monastery. Photo by Aldo Giovannini

The Dominican Monastery of Saint Catherine in Borgo San Lorenzo will come back to life as a multipurpose facility. Thanks to a recovery project coordinated by Consortium Co & So, the convent complex adjacent to the Pieve, one of the historic buildings in the heart of Borgo San Lorenzo, not only will not undergo architectural upheavals, but will constitute a gathering point for citizens.

An altarpiece by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio

It cannot be said that the Monastery will be reopened. It has never actually been open. Founded in 1516, after not infrequently troubled vicissitudes and more than one suppression, it was a cloistered convent until 1971. In 2009, Sister Imelda, the last remaining religious, disappeared. With great foresight, the Dominican Sisters expressed their desire to bring him back to life looking to the future. They thus involved the Co & So Consortium, the Fabrica Consortium and the Gal-Start in the constitution of the Foundation “The citadel of Santa Caterina da Siena”.

The result was a large and articulated project which includes three different destinations for the three levels of the building. The second floor will be occupied by a health facility of care and rehabilitation with 40 beds. The first will host a cultural center for exhibitions and events, as well as a museum where it will be possible to admire the numerous works of art present in the Monastery. The ground floor, with the splendid cloister and the basement annexed, will welcome a restaurant and business activities that will enhance local products. A good part of the latter will be cultivated in the gardens of the Monastery, therefore at zero kilometer in the true sense of the term. Overall, an investment by 6,5 million and the prospect of at least 40 new jobs.

The refectory. Photo by Aldo Giovannini

After the presentation of the project, held in the great hall of the Refectory on 23 March, the monastery was opened for the weekend to guided tours, conducted by students of the Liceo Giotto Ulivi. A reservation was inevitably required. A total of 800 showed up and just as many remained out. It was a further confirmation of the interest and attachment of the villagers to this monument, which proved to be splendid architecture and a treasure trove of extraordinary works of art.

The cloister

Will there be more days to please those who didn't make it to visit the Monastery in March? It is the wish of many. Meanwhile - and it is a good sign - next May 16 and 17, the friend Aldo Giovannini, local historian, will accompany two middle classes of the Istituto Comprensivo di Borgo to discover the Convent.

As for the project, Giovannini himself wrote: “Now the technical part of restoration and recovery begins, which will take a long, long time and cannot be otherwise; Of course, many ask themselves questions, with their doubts, their criticisms, their perplexities, all of which are acceptable. But, before giving sentences, it is good to wait, ponder, observe what will develop and what the future of the bourgeois monastery will be. "