Highlights of the Dominican Church complex in Bolzano are the cloister and the Chapel of San Giovanni and an altarpiece by Guercino. Part of the complex is now used to house the Civic Museum of Bolzano. Another part is the seat of the Conservatorium.
Dominican Church Bolzano
Address: Piazza Domenicani, Bolzano (Bozen). Phone: (+39) 0471 982027. Opening hours: From 07.00 till 19.00 (Sundays till 18.00). Admission: Free. Italian name: Chiesa dei Domenicani.
History and description
The history of the Domican order in Bolzano starts in 1272. In that year the order established itself in the city and built a convent with a church, a cloister and several chapels. Some of the chapels have since been demolished.
The original church consisted of a single nave. In the 17th and 18th centuries the Gothic vaults and several baroque decorations were added.
The most interesting part of the church is the long and narrow side chapel dedicated to San Giovanni. The chapel’s main attraction is a fresco cycle by Giotto‘s pupils. Highlights on the east wall are “Events from the Life of Saint Nicholas” and “Triumph of Death”. The eastern wall shows the “Flight to Egypt” and the north wall a “Torture of Saint Bartholomew”.
The decorations were commissioned by the family De Rossi, who later changed their name to Von Botsch. They were painted in the 14th century.
The Guercino altar piece is found to the left of the main altar. The work was financed by a group of wealthy local businessmen. It was painted in 1655.
Both the western wall of the church itself and the eastern wall of the cloister are painted with 14th century frescoes.
The entrance to the cloister is in the Piazza Domenicani. There are some frescoes by Friedrich Pacher, painted in 1496 and showing events from the life of Christ.
The cloister gives access to the Chapel of Santa Caterina, which contain some Giotto-ish frescoes.
Part of the old convent is now used by the Conservatorio di Musica. The annual Ferruccio Busoni piano competition is held here. The exhibition space Galleria Civica is also housed in the convent.