Outside Torino above the Susa Valley is a spectacularly scenic monastic complex. The Sacra di San Michele sits high in a cleft in a dominating position and is dedicated to Michael the Archangel.

Resting on Mt. Pirchiriano, the monastery is dramatic to look at. You can walk up to it along a pathway (not a difficult trek) or drive up. It is between Avigliana and Chiusa di San Michele, to the west of Turin. The site originally housed a Roman outpost that guarded the road between Italy and Gaul, then it became a Lombard fortress. The Abbey of San Michele was built in Byzantine and Gothic style around 1015. When it became a Benedictine abbey, they amplified it, added guest quarters for pilgrims along the popular Via Francigena, and added the monastery. It was suppressed in 1622 and remained abandoned for two centuries before being revived by King Carlo Alberto of Piedmont-Sardinia and repopulated by the Rosminians, a charity order, who still operate it today.

it is an impressive sight worth visiting. The building style is beautiful and bears many Byzantine elements, notable in the arches, niches and columns. The Porta dello Zodiaco is a lovely masterpiece of 12th century sculpture. The remains of the Tower of Bell'Alba offers jaw-dropping views, the statue of the Archangel with his sword in the stone is more recent sculptural addition. The octagonal sepulchre of the monks is modeled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

This is a spot worth detouring to during your stay in Torino!

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Address in Torino:

Via della Sacra, Sant'Ambrogio di Torino.

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