PADULA: Beyond the monastery
Immersed in the green of the foothills of the 'Maddalena', Padula is worthy to be visited, and not only for the wonderful Carthusian monastery, the 'Certosa di San Lorenzo', one of the most spectacular monuments in Southern Italy, but also for the suggestive natural environment and cultural heritage that characterizes it.
Featuring an old-world charm, Padula is a village dominated by unspoiled nature and a rich vegetation marking the profile of the mountains of the Maddalena. A very fertile land which supports typical crops and contributes with its climate, to make itself a point of reference for a relaxing stay and a quality hospitality. Padula offers to its visitors interesting architectural sites as well as the famous 'Certosa di San Lorenzo'. Shortly before arriving to the village you will notice the ruins of the early Christian baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonte, one of the most fascinating monuments on the entire Vallo di Diano territory. Founded in the fourth century by Pope Marcellus I, it preserves an ancient baptismal font, but the real suggestion offered by this Christian work of art is given by the spring water flowing through it.
Historical sources attest the existence of Padula after the year 1000. Certainly the Byzantine monks took part to its birth and growth, as the churches of S. Nicola alle Donne and the ruins of the Monastery of S. Nicola al Torone testify. In 1305 Tommaso II of Sanseverino gained the properties of the 'Grancia' and donated them to the Carthusian monks of San Brunone. With the Act signed in January 1306 the building of the first core of the Carthusian monastery started. A few items of the oldest plant are still preserved in the cenoby: They include the beautiful main door of the church dated 1374 and the cross vaults of the same church. The great cloister astonishes for its monumentality and size (which boasts a perimeter of 500 m and 84 arches) and for the outside court of rectangular shape. Important are also: the cloisters of the guest quarters; the fourteenth-century church; the rectangular Room of the Chapter, rich in stuccoes of the eighteenth century; the cloister of the ancient cemetery; the eighteenth-century Chapel of the Treasury, with a sumptuous decor; the Founder's Chapel, where you can admire the altar and the sixteenth-century stone sarcophagus where the founder is represented as a sleeping warrior; the kitchen and the cellars (with the oil-mill of 1785); the refectory, with the oil painting on the wall representing a scene suitable to the functions of this hall: the wedding of Cana, that is the miracle of water and wine; the cloister of the procurators; the cell of the prior, a residence of ten rooms; various service-rooms; the archives; a direct access to the library; a wonderful garden with a private chapel and a frescoed loggia, and the cells of the Carthusian monks; the elliptic grand staircase by Gaetano Barba with its two flights that reminds Sanfelice's and Vanvitelli's art; the large garden of the cloister (the "desertum" insurmountable limit between the spiritual life of the cloister and the outside world). The library is very characteristic for the hugeness of the rooms and the richness of decorative majolica-tiled floor. Noteworthy is the façade of the Carthusian monastery, which can been admired from the outside courtyard, built in 1718 in the late Mannerist style.
In the historical centre of Padula visit the Church of St. Michael (preserving some ancient parchments of exceptional interest), the Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation (where the ossuary of the 300 of Pisacane is), the Roman Palace, the native house of Joe Petrosino, the sixteenth-century square and the buildings of the medieval hamlet, with the main door Distasio Palace, also known as the Palace Sanseverino, and the monastery of Saint Francis.
You should also visit the Archaeological Museum of Western Lucania, which contains archaeological material from the excavations in the southern region of the Sele River. Among the many displayed remainings, there are some vases with geometric decorations, objects made of amber, bronze and iron coming from the Enotrian tombs of Consilina and Padula.
Leaving the town centre you have the opportunity to drive along and enjoy a natural landscape of great charm, interspersed with farms standing out on the green, a direct contact with nature. Particularly striking is the hamlet Mandriva, perfect for a walk in a very picturesque and green area, rich in pine woods and beech trees, located in a vast plan characterized by many karst phenomena. A very appreciated event that permits you to enjoy the beauties of Padula is "Padula celebrating Charles V and the 1000 eggs omelette" which takes place every summer. The event was inspired by a fact occurred in 1535, when Charles V of Spain, on the way back from a victorious battle of Tunis against the Barbaric pirates, stopped at the Carthusian monastery with all his army. The Coenobites prepared for the illustrious guest a "gargantuan banquet" and a huge omelette made with thousand eggs.
Typical is the stone working which perpetuates the flourishing tradition of the so-called "school of the stonemasons' of Padula, particularly popular in the past centuries. This art is not only present in the stone working of Padula's typical white stone with black spots, later evolved into the internationally known inlaid work; it is also expressed in creations with polychrome marble mosaics. Very popular are also the processing of wood and iron, as well as hand embroidery.