Entering or leaving the Susa valley it’s impossible not to note the imposing building towering above the valley and the plain, nearly without interruption with the rocks beneath.
The renovations, started in ‘800, are still ongoing and the building is well preserved.
The Saint Michael's abbey rises up on the spur of the MountPirchiriano (3155 ft) and is the “Symbolic monument of the region Piedmont" and is to be considered one of the Italian most splendid places of worship.
Sacred place in the Celtic era, here the Romans adored the alpine deities and then in the 10th century a first group of Benedictines took residence.
The history of the abbey begins later (in 983), when Ugo di Montboissier,an Auvergne aristocrat, ordered the Abbey to be built as expiation for his sins.
At the side of the Via Francigena, during four centuries the abbey flourished and widened its estate.
In 1622 begins the decline that reach its peak with the devastating plunders operated by the French troops between 1629 and 1706. The abbey was so reduced to a pile of ruins.
The revival started in 1836, thanks to the king Carlo Alberto.
A little digression:
if you came to the abbey going across the Avigliana lakes (deserving a stop) at the end of the visit drive towards Colle Braida-Giaveno (or the other way round): really worth it!
Some little problem:
- Talking about the Sacra to several acquaintances, not Piedmontese, we noticed that few people (not to say anyone) knew this splendid building: it seems a sign of an unfortunate tourist promotion.
- The visit seems to be reserved just to people in very good form apart from a lift for disabled only that avoids the so-called "great stairway of the dead men", (one of the most evocative place). The car park is about 1 km from the ticket booth and the path run uphill (even if it is a slight rise).
As we frequently found abroad, it would be convenient to provide a shuttle service (to be paid of course!) to enable everybody to visit the abbey.
For more information visit the website www.sacradisanmichele.com not limiting the visit to the virtual tour