Fodor's Expert Review Certosa di Pavia
The main draw in Pavia is its certosa (Carthusian monastery), 9 km (5½ miles) north of the city center and a 15-minute walk from the Certosa di Pavia train station. Its elaborate facade shows the same relish for ornamentation as Milan's Duomo. The Certosa di Pavia's extravagant grandeur was due in part to the plan to have it house the tombs of the family of the first duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti (who died during a plague, at age 49, in 1402). The best marble was used, taken undoubtedly by barge from the quarries of Carrara, roughly 240 km (150 miles) away. Although the floor plan is Gothic—a cross shape divided into a series of squares—the gorgeous fabric that rises above it is triumphantly Renaissance. On the facade, in the lower frieze, are medallions of Roman emperors and Eastern monarchs; above them are low reliefs of scenes from the life of Christ and from the career of Gian Galeazzo Visconti.