Each of us is emotionally linked to a place that often represents a particular part of our life and would like it to be protected forever, that’s for me the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Consolazione, best known as the Chiesa di San Nicola and its friary. The Convent of San Nicola was built in the Bergamo area, surrounded by the vines of the Umbriana hill in Almenno San Salvatore, at the end of the 15th century, when a plague epidemic was raging. The habitants of Almenno, to obtain the liberation from the contagion, made a vow to God to build a chapel dedicated to Saints Sebastian and Rocco. The pestilence ceased the following year, and Friar Alberto da Sarnico came to the village as a preacher. The project was transformed within a few years in the construction of a church and a convent dedicated to Santa Maria della Consolazione, built between 1488 and 1518.
The splendid church, made of local stone, has a single nave, with six chapels that open on each side and richly decorated with stuccos as the Madonna with Child by Boselli of 1518 and precious paintings such as the Trinity by Andrea Previtali of 1517 and the Holy Family by Francesco da Ponte known as Bassano, Inside the church, in addition you can find the Organ Antegnati of 1588 organ of great value, the oldest in the Bergamo area. On the second floor, the women's galleries run while the ceiling is decorated with original painted terracotta tiles. The convent, also on two floors, revolves around the cloister, open on the ground floor by a portico with pointed arches. At the end of the nineteenth century the church fell into decline and was less and less frequented until recently, when it returned to being a fulcrum of the socio-cultural life of the village.
The church and convent dominate the surrounding countryside, which is cultivated and slopes down to the Brembo River. It is also a place of excellent wine and good cuisine. Currently the church is used for religious celebrations and there are concerts and courses on ancient music. As for the convent, on the east side and in the south wing are the cellars of the Azienda Agricola Lurani Cernuschi, whose vineyards are a splendid setting for the entire complex, while the remaining part with the cloister is home to a typical restaurant called “La Frasca” , from the traditional "frasca", the branch that in the past was laid outside the cellars to indicate the sale of the old wine, organized every year before the harvest to empty the barrels and make room for new one.
When i was a child i used to visit this charming place with my family every year during the first week of September when the traditional celebration in honor of San Nicola takes place. The habitants of Almenno organize a lively festival with music, games and delicious food (and wine!!), an unmissable occasion to experience the typical dishes of the province as Casoncelli, brasato, polenta and cheese.. During the festival the Church is open to the public.
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