The Carthusian Monastery in Calci near Pisa

In an unassuming little town called Calci just outside Pisa is one of the most important Carthusian monasteries in Italy. The monastery or Charterhouse was originally built in 1366 but was transformed into what is more of a Baroque palace from the 17th Century then the home of an austere closed order of hermit monks.

The monastery was abandoned in 1972 and is now a National museum giving us a unique insight into the monastic life of a Carthusian. The monks have been replaced by a colony of Cats not Chartreux cats but nevertheless I am certain the order would approve. 

Visits are guided around this incredible edifice and we were at first disappointed because despite ringing up we were not told until the tour started that part of the monastery had suffered storm damage and therefore was closed for a few weeks. However our initials disappointment was dismissed due to our lovely guide

The tour started in the pharmacy that despite being a closed order was also able to serve the local community though only men could enter an anti chamber and talk to the monks through grills. The wonderful apothecary jars are still on the shelves and some tomes are also on display including one on homeopathy from early 1800 .  


We then progressed in to the main part of the Charterhouse and were able to see the refectory, only used on special occasions with a fresco of the last supper by Bernardino Poccetti(1597). All the frescoes in the room are in perfect condition despite never having been restored. 

In one of the brother’s chapels there were a row of rather nifty little drawers below the pews it seems these where spitting drawers perhaps giving us a hint of the damp in the cold winters. 

The monastery despite its physical magnificence adhered to the strict rules of the order including no heating in any form. Unfortunately the famous cloister and gardens where the priests and monks cell where closed due to the storm damage. However our lovely guide told us there where luxury cells for the well off monks each with their own bathroom whereas 60 ordinary friars had to share one bathroom. 

Sadly for me the library was also closed but we could look out into the grounds, where there were olive trees and even a fish farm. This order was self-sufficient even growing wheat.

The wonderful marble pavements and also the visitors suite really gave us a tantalising look not only into this beautiful building but also the a way of life.

We shall certainly be returning many times not only to complete our visit after the repairs have been done but with friends.

The Monastery also houses the National History museum of Pisa, which has life size models of dinosaurs making Calci a perfect day out for all the family even on a rainy day.

Opening times :
Tuesday to Saturday :
8.30 9.30 10.30 11.30 12.30 13.30 14.30 15.30 16.30 17.30 18.30 
Sunday and Bank holidays
8.30 9.30 10.30 11.30 and 12.30

closed on Mondays 1st January 1st May and 25th December


  1. I have been to the area many times and never new this place existed. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This place looks incredible

  3. Just amazing..we might have to see it!

  4. Just amazing..we might have to see it!

  5. Your pictures are so stunning! I just pinned it so that I can plan my next Italian adventure!

  6. Visited in 2007 with friends. Please visit this less well known Italian delight and you won't be disappointed. The frescoes are exquisite, the tiling wonderful and the apothecary left us speechless. Don't expect any commercialisation - this monastery is all the better without it.


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