The history of the Convent

600 years of history

Several stories are intertwined in the history of the Convento dell’Annunciata: that of the Order of the Servants of Mary who founded it in 1449 as a communal home and locus of spirituality; that of Monte Orfano, at the farthest border of Franciacorta and essential element in its specific microclimate; and finally that of Bellavista and Vittorio Moretti, owner and founder of one of Franciacorta’s historic brands.


The ‘Genius loci’ of the Convento dell’Annunciata

The decision as to where to construct the Bellavista winery was not accidental and involved several factors: the Mediterranean and the subalpine climates converge here and the vegetation is so unusual for the surrounding area, the ancient terraces dating back to the year 1000 and the particular southerly exposure have jointly given rise an identity that, then as now, exerts great attraction.


The history of the Convento dell’Annunciata


The origins

It was 1449 when the Friars of the Order of the Servants of Mary, a religious order founded in Florence in the 13th century, were allowed to build a church with an adjoining convent dedicated to saint Annunciata, on a site where there was once a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

This is how the Convento della Santissima Annunciata originated on the slopes of Monte Orfano, in a towering position at 260 metres above sea level. It has a 15th-century double cloister and a series of loggias and, when the weather is particularly clear, the views from them stretch as far as the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and the Piedmont Alps.

The first community, composed of 11 friars, took up residence in 1452 and in the same year a precious wooden panel depicting the Annunciation was installed in the church. In 1464 the construction of the Cloister was completed.


The consecration

The church was completed in 1503 and consecrated in 1507. Between 1535 and 1540, the famous painter Girolamo Romanino painted the fresco of the Annunciation in the lunette above the altar of the Church.

The Church quickly acquired importance and became a site of pilgrimage and popular worship. Many of the area’s faithful often went up to the Convent, especially on the great feast days dedicated to Our Lady.

Even St. Carlo Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, showed an interest in this place, which was so dear to the inhabitants of the area, and in 1580 he visited the Convent.


Transitional years

In 1630 the convent was transformed into a hospital to assist patients suffering from the plague. During this period, the walls of the church were disinfected with quicklime, thereby covering the frescoes that would later only be partially recovered.

In 1635 the church took on its current late Renaissance appearance thanks to the reconstruction of the central nave and the addition of new chapels. In 1642 the Convent was extended on the southern slope with the addition of an architectural element typical of the farmhouses of Franciacorta: a double loggia.

The influence of the Convent in the area continued to grow. Along the slopes of Monte Orfano the friars intensified their cultivation of the vine, undertaken since their settlement in the 15th century, producing a much-appreciated vin santo.



In 1772, the Republic of Venice suppressed numerous places of religious worship and this fate also befell the Convento dell’Annunciata.

In 1773 the Convent was sold at auction and taken over by a company of citizens from Rovato and Coccaglio who transformed it into a youth college.

After several changes of ownership and numerous uses, including as a hotel and a restaurant, the Convent was purchased again by the citizens of Rovato in 1870, constituting a company chaired by the historian Cesare Cantù.


The return of the friars

In 1960, the Convent reverted back into the hands of the Order of the Servants of Mary who regained the complex by subjecting it to major renovation work that restored it to its former ancient splendour. On 23rd September 1963, the friars came back to live in the Convent.

In 1984, the friendship between Father Sebastiano and Vittorio Moretti was reinforced by their mutual passion for the territory of Franciacorta. A portion of the vineyards cultivated by Friar Sebastiano was entrusted to Bellavista, the company founded by Vittorio Moretti in Franciacorta. During this period, a research project was launched for the preservation and enhancement of the ancient Chardonnay vineyard originally planted by the friars.

The study, which illustrated the uniqueness of the place and the singularity of the plot of land entrusted to Bellavista by the friars also led to the creation of a wine that bears the name of the Convent and embodies its entire history. The first harvest dates back to 6th September 1991.


A new life for the Convent

Due to that special friendship and an equally special vineyard – cultivated here by Bellavista since the 1980s – the Fondazione Vittorio and Mariella Moretti has assumed the responsibility of keeping alive the tradition that considers this place a cultural and spiritual benchmark, promoting every one of its values.

Want to find out more? Get in touch!

Opening our doors to guests and taking care of their stay, in harmony and respect for the history of the Convento dell’Annunciata, is our firm commitment. Contact us to find out how you can enjoy moments of peace and serenity in this captivating place.