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In 1142 Guarnerio II, Duke of Spoleto and Marquis of the March of Ancona, gave the Cistercians a large area of land which stretched from the river Chienti to the river Fiastra. The monks, from Chiaravalle Abbey in Milan, arrived on 29 November of the same year and immediately started work on the construction of the monastery. They used material from the ruins of the nearby Roman town of Urbs Salvia, destroyed by Alaric in 408-410. They also began reclaiming the marshy woodland, inhabited by wolves, bears and deer.
The abbey flourished for three centuries. The monks organized their agricultural land into six granges. The monastery was actively involved in encouraging the economic, social and religious development of the area. Its influence grew to the extent that it incorporated 33 dependent churches and monasteries.
The history of the abbey is recorded in a collection of 3,194 manuscripts known as “Carte Fiastrensi”, which are now housed in the State Archive in Rome.
In 1422 the Abbey was sacked by Braccio da Montone, who destroyed the roof of the church and the tiburio (the high bell tower).
Subsequently, the Pope assigned the Abbey in commendam to a series of eight cardinals (this benefice was used to provide a temporary administrator to the monastery that was at risk for financial ruin; it also provided a steady income for those who were nominated).
In 1581, the Abbey was assigned to the Jesuits and eventually, after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, the whole area was handed over to the noble Bandini family. The last heir of the family, Sigismondo, left the area to the present Giustiniani-Bandini Foundation, who set up the Fiastra Abbey Nature Reserve in order to preserve this heritage.
The Cistercian monks returned to live in Fiastra and re-established the Abbey in 1985.