The small chapel, designed in Roman style, dates back to the thirteenth century. Its entire width is covered by an arched barrel-vault, with an external apse in projection, was built by Pope Gregory IX (in office 1227 – 1241).
Inside can still be seen its baroque altar in stucco and bricks, done by the Augustinians who lived in the monastery during the seventeenth century. At that time also the monastic lodgings were rebuilt by the erection of a new section, immediately adjacent to the church wall, with a second level accessed by a stairway that has now collapsed. This new section was linked to the “old monastery” that dated back to the Middle Ages.
The Prior Raffaello da Venezia O.S.A. described the monastic lodgings this: “The new building has two halls, two little loggias or corridors, four rooms and a covered dormitory. In the old convent there are five rooms which are used as a refectory, kitchen, pantry, cellar and store. There are four rooms and a loggia, and a spacious hall where stay the foreigners, with the stall, and another room on the ground floor.”
During Prior Raffaelo’s time, the Malevalle convent housed only three Augustinians (i.e., the prior, the bachelor brother, and a lay brother) and a young man who was either a candidate or a servant. In the Middle Ages, however, when the monastery was the general seat of the Williamite Order, the number of occupants would have been considerably more.
Its present condition
The hermitage was closed for restoration in 2005. Although a sign still present gave the date of its re-opening as 2006, visitors in February 2011 reported that areas are still fenced off. Although there is evidence that the work has ceased, much remains incomplete (but how much could be accomplished with an allocated budget of only 86,000 euros?!).
In the chapel, for example, which can be viewed only through a dusty window, it can be seen that parts of the chapel floor have been left being excavated, and there was a pile of bones in the corner nearby – probably from burials that had been done under the chapel floor. The only restoration completed in 2005 seems to have been the provision of a new roof over the ancient chapel.
To reach Malavalle requires a walk of 3.2 kilometres that is 225 metres uphill, beginning at a car park on the edge of the village of Castigione della Pesciaia.