Sacra Di San Michele’s past
The abbey was established as a part of the cult of Saint Michael, sometimes known as the archangel Michael, in the late 900s (reports range from 966 to 987).sacra di san michele
It is one of several St. Michael-focused monasteries that make up a more than 2,000-kilometre-long pilgrimage circuit. The group gained notoriety for constructing its houses of worship in hazardous or remote locations.Such as mountain peaks, underground caves, or steep promontories.
The most well-known of the group is Mount Saint Michel in France, where accessing the fortified promontory before construction was hazardous due to tidal conditions.(sacra di san michele)
You can begin the trip in Jerusalem at the Monastery of Mount Carmel if you’re interested in devoting a year or two to it.
St. Michael’s Monastery in Greece, Monte Sant’Angelo in southern Italy, Sacra di San Michele, Mont St. Michel in France, and St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, England, are among the places you’ll pass through.
On Skellig Michael, the windswept Irish island where Luke Skywalker lived in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it all comes to an end (perhaps after a chilly swim).
A day trip from Turin to Sacra di San Michele, or St. Michael’s Monastery in English, cannot help but conjure up a time when the world was more enigmatically and magically organised than it is today.
Even if you have no interest in religious or historical institutions, the natural beauty and pure air are well worth the time spent—and the climb.
Sacra di San Michele’s Inside
In its first few decades, the monastery grew quickly, adding buildings to house pilgrims and monks.In the 12th century, a brand-new church was built, complete with an impressive lower level. This is the major building visible in modern photographs.
During this period,
the San Michele Benedictine monks grew in power as well, eventually controlling much of northern Italy and parts of neighbouring France in terms of law and religion.
Yet since everything that rises must eventually fall, the abbey and its leadership started to deteriorate until Pope Gregory the 15th permanently closed it down in 1622. It was abandoned for a couple hundred years until the Rosminians, a Catholic charity, moved in and started to renovate and resuscitate the building in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Today’s pilgrims still congregate every day in the monastery, but they may be less devout. Fast-forward a few hundred years. There are modern conveniences like a parking lot, a cafe, and flushing toilets for us contemporary pilgrims.
Although the interior of the current church is not as impressive as the exterior, it is still worth the €8 entrance price (unless you’re on a really tight budget). You will get the opportunity to go up the Staircase of the Dead, where benefactors and early monks are interred in graves hidden within the walls.
The flying buttresses are enormous stone slabs that are striking in both size and purpose when viewed up close. In the 12th century, a famous master mason named Maestro Nicolao carved the Door of the Zodiac.On one side of the door are the zodiac signs, while on the other are 16 additional constellations.
Don’t be deceived
by the door that leads into the church’s interior, despite its weight and formidable appearance. The entrance is there even though it appears to be forever closed and has a décor of the devil dressed as a serpent pleading with you to go. When we mustered the courage to force the door open, we tried it a few times and nearly turned around to hunt for another way in.
erected here in the 1800s can be found inside the cathedral. Many sculptures, wall frescoes, and an intriguing succession of pillars with capitals are also available for viewing.
The most breathtaking views you’ll see all year may be found outside the back door on the spacious patio.
As the mountains keep guard to the north and west, the Susa river valley extends in both directions. You may see the remains of the previous monastery directly below. Get ready for your imagination to be ignited as you observe birds soar in and out of the collapsing walls.
Sacra Di San Michele walk
We didn’t really care about religion and mostly came to Sacra di San Michele for the walk. We were eager to get away to the beautiful countryside of Piemonte and breathe the clean air that Torino doesn’t always have.
We chose the trekking route that begins in the quaint town of Sant’Ambrogio out of the few that lead to Sacra di San Michele. You can simply take the train there from Turin and, like we did, begin your walk there.
From there, cross the busy main road and proceed directly into the village’s centre. Let yourself some time to explore the town’s winding streets and get a sense of how little has changed in small-town Italy over the past 100 years.
Family-owned businesses draw in customers with open doors, enticing smells, and tiny cars squeezing through streets that are impossible to understand.You’ll occasionally catch a glimpse of Sacra di San Michele via a crack in the walls. Please remember to bring your camera.
Locate Chiesa di San Giovanni Vincenzo, a sizable Catholic church in the town’s centre, to access the trail’s beginning. Enter its parking area, exit the back, and then begin rising. From here, it’s all upward.
You can follow the signs, and soon you’ll be wandering along a winding paved route behind the village’s homes. This is a fantastic opportunity to see a glimpse into folks’ daily lives!
The pilgrimage path is upward
The trail abruptly turns above the last few homes in the village after about 15 minutes, and you soon find yourself on a forested slope. The trail is paved with rounded stones that are slippery from years of use because it is a pilgrimage route. Carry sturdy footwear to prevent slipping down the hill or twisting your ankle.
From here, the ascent is uphill but not too steep. You’ll work up a sweat while also working your calves and quads. Give it some time. There are many rest areas along the route, including a few water spigots where you may get deliciously crisp and cold water that is also potable.
The climb’s array of crosses set along the path, which stand in for the stations of the cross, is another noteworthy aspect. Although they are all similar, they aren’t really thrilling, but they do act as way markers that indicate how far you’ve come and how far there is still to go.
You will get your first close-up view of the abbey when you emerge from the woodland an hour later. The first glimpse of Sacra di San Michele will do the trick if your breath isn’t already shallow and rapid from the walk.
Conserve part of your leg power for the descent. By the time you reach the bottom, the slick cobbles will make you feel like you’ve travelled a long distance.
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San Michele Brewery
The reason we decided to walk the Sant’Ambrogio route is now revealed.
This contemporary brewery in the centre of town offers a wide variety of its own beers. After a day of hiking, a tasting session is the ideal way to recharge your batteries. You won’t have to go hungry because of their huge menu!
Other Routes for Adventurers
An alternative day walk
Frazione Mortera, which is right above Avigliana, has a well-known trail that goes up to the monastery, but it does so in a different way.It is less steep because you begin at a higher height and takes approximately the same length of time (about 1.5 hours).
The abbey is also accessible by starting at Chiusa di San Michele and hiking up the mule path.
Daylong Through Hike
Long-distance hikers can travel from Oulx to Sacra di San Michele by passing through the Gran Bosco and Orsiera Rocciavrè nature parks. The route is roughly 60 km long, so be sure to gear up for an adventure and arrange for lodging or camping before you leave.
climbing the cliffs
You’ll need about 4 hours, in addition to the necessary tools, to complete this journey. We advise getting a local guide for your protection.
San Michele’s Sacrifice 5 hour tour from Turin, €38
This tour can assist you if you’d prefer to travel to
Sacra di San Michele with a guide instead of hiking there.From Torino, take a private coach to the monastery, where you may tour it with a knowledgeable guide.
Pricing and Hours
The abbey’s hours are a little hard to understand and change often based on the season and time of day. So be sure to pay attention!
- Adults €8
- Reduced €6 (ages 6 to 18 and over 65)
- Free Kids 5 and under
- Family ticket €6 per person, 2 adults & 2 kids (6–18)
Winter Hours: October 16 to March 15
- Monday to Friday — 9.30 am to 12.30 pm & 2.30 pm to 5 pm
- Saturday — 9.30 am to 5 pm
- Sunday & public holidays — 9.30 am to 5 pm (entry from 12 pm to 1 pm only for the participation in the Saint Mass)
- January & February — closed Monday (except public holidays)
Summer Hours: March 16 to October 15
- Monday to Friday — 9.30 am to 12.30 pm & from 2.30 pm to 6pm
- Saturday — 9.30 am to 6 pm
- Sunday & public holidays — 9.30 am to 6 pm (entry from 12 pm to 1 pm only for the participation in the Saint Mass)
- Easter Monday, April 25, May 1, June 2 — 9.30 am to 7 pm
- July & August every day — 9.30 am to 7 pm
Accessing Sacra di San Michele
It is easy to board the train to either of the two main starting sites for a walk up the mountain if you are travelling from Turin.
- Torino Porta Nuova to Sant’Ambrogio, 1 train per hour, 30 mins, €4
- Torino Porta Nuova to Chiusa di San Michele, 1 train per hour, 40 mins, €4
Torino is a 30-minute drive away by automobile, and Sant’Ambrogio has lots of free parking
located right off the main road.
However, it goes without saying that we advise taking the train because it is both quicker and more environmentally friendly. If you don’t want to drive, you may instead enjoy a few drinks at the San Michele Brewery.
We hope that this travel guide to Sacra di San Michele will be helpful to you as you organise your vacation. We enjoyed venturing outside into the Susa Valley’s fresh air and investigating the abbey’s ruins, which date back 1,000 years. Send us an email if we’ve inspired you to go or if you need assistance with your plans. Please let us know.
Travelfootstep wishes you happy transforming travels.