The Monastery of Santa Chiara in San Miniato was founded in 1226, and housed Clarisse nuns for several centuries before it was transformed into a conservatory for educating young girls following the suppression of religious orders in 1785. Today, the convent’s rooms are open to visitors (including the nuns’ former choir), as well as the church and the chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.
The rich collection on display was formed throughout the centuries through dowries of sisters who took their vows in the convent, donations by the nuns’ families and work carried out by the sisters themselves.
The church boasts priceless 17th-century decorations by the workshop of the painter Antonio Domenico Bamberini. Inside, there are various paintings of considerable quality, some of are the late 16th-century panel painting on the high altar depicting the Immaculate Conception by Iacopo Chimenti, known as l’Empoli; a painting from the 1600s from the workshop of Simone Pignoni; and a painting by Pier Francesco Foschi of Dead Christ Supported by Angels. Also in the church, visitors will want to see the reliquary of the martyr San Cratone, donated to the religious community by Pope Alexander VII.
Other works include paintings, urns, liturgical objects and embroideries made by the nuns, like silk antependiums. In addition to a beautiful painting by Ludovico Cardi, known as il Cigoli, the furnishings are interesting as well, like two medieval crucifixes, the first made by Deodato Orlandi in 1301 and the second attributed to the Sienese Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio from around 1340.