The Sacra di San Michele: legends and mysteries in Piedmont

History and mysteries of the sacra di San Michele, one of the most important Northern Italy monuments, and how to get there from Turin and from Milan

Sacra di San Michele: location and history

The Sacra di San Michele is a very famous abbey and a symbol of Piedmont. It’s a religious monument of incomparable beauty and value, and one of the most mysterious in Italy.

The Sacra occupies with its spectacular buildings the 1000 meters high rocky peak of Mount Pirchiriano, located at the entrance of the valley of Susa, coming from Turin.

Its exceptional position dominates the entire lower valley, with spectacular views over the Piedmont hills and mountains.

French aristocrat Ugo de Monvoisier founded the abbey on Mount Pirchiriano, in the municipality of Sant’Ambrogio di Torino between 983 and 987.

From then, the Sacra di San Michele became an increasingly important reference point for Benedictine monasticism in the Middle Ages, touching apex of the fame around the year one thousand, even if new buildings were added up to the XIII century.

An inexorable decline led it to be substantially abandoned from the fourteenth century until the early nineteenth century, when it was recovered and renovated, becoming the symbol of Piedmont.

This impressive medieval architectural complex inspired Italian writer Umberto Eco the setting of his internationally known novel: the Name of the Rose.

The Sacra di San MIchele inthe myst – credits to Elio Pallard

The mystery of the so-called magic line of San Michele

It is believed  that an energetic line unites three basilicas / abbeys dedicated to the Archangel Michael. The three points of this line are: the Mont Saint Michel, located in France in the Normandy region, the Sacra di San Michele and the Monte Sant’Angelo in Puglia.

According to experts of white magic, the energetic point would be located on a small floor tile. If you place yourself on that point, always according to these theories, you can clearly perceive the powerful energy of the magic line of San Michele.

In the Sacra di San Michele, this point is supposed to be on the left of the Church, immediately after the entrance.

The three sacred places dedicated to St. Michael are located 1000 kilometers away from each other, aligned along this straight line, which also crosses Jerusalem, St Michael’s Mount, in Cornwall, and the island of Skellig Michael in Ireland.

How to visit Sacra di San Michele from Turin and from Milan

By car:

Highway A32 Turin-Bardonecchia direction Frejus exit for Avigliana Centro.

At the roundabout as soon as you exit the highway, follow signs for Giaveno Sacra di San Michele and enter the tunnel. At the tunnel exit, at another roundabout, follow the signs for Lakes of Avigliana and Giaveno and then for the Sacra di San Michele.

Park in the Piazzale Croce Nera (approximately 10 minutes from the abbey).

By train:

Take the Turin-Susa or Turin-Bardonecchia railway line and stop at Avigliana.
From Avigliana taxis are available (about 14 Km to the Sacra, price 25€).

From the 1st of April to the 1st of November 2018, on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and during all non-working days (Easter Monday; 25 April, 1st Mai, 2nd June, 15 August, 1st November), there is a bus connection service from Avigliana. Price: 4€ both ways.

Sacra di San Michele hikes:

Sacra di San Michele used to be a major pilgrimage destination, so many paths converge on the abbey. Different options to get there by foot:

You can reach the Sacra di San Michele through 2 routes, one that connects it to the village of Chiusa di San Michele, and the other that connects it with the village of Sant’Ambrogio. The complex can also be reached via the via ferrata Carlo Giorda which starts from Sant’Ambrogio di Torino at the foot of Mount Pirchiriano.

From the Sacra di San Michele the Franchi trail begins, a famous and historic hiking path that connects the upper valley. Also the Via Francigena, one of the major European pilgrimage routes, passes through the Sacra, linking the Mont-Saint-Michel in France to the sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, near Foggia.

Opening hours of Sacra di San Michele

Winter timetable – from October 16th to March 15th

  • Weekdays (from Tuesday to Saturday): 9.30-12.30, 14.30-17.00
  • Sunday: 9.30-12.00, 14.30-17.00
  • Public holidays (1 November, 8 December, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Epiphany): 9.30-12.00, 14.30-17.30
  • Public holidays (26 December): open from 9.30 to 17.30
  • Closing day: Monday, except public holidays

Summer timetable – from March 16th to October 15th

  • Weekdays (from Tuesday to Saturday): 9.30-12.30, 14.30-18.00
  • Sunday: 9.30-12.00, 14.30-18.00
  • Public holidays (Monday of Easter, 25 April, 1 Mai, 2 June): open from 9.30 to 18.30
  • Public holidays (15 August): 9.30-12.00; 14.30-18.30
  • Closing day: Monday, except public holidays

Extraordinary Openings

From 16th July to 24th September 2018, opened also on Monday: 9.30-12.30 and 14.30-18.00 (last entry at 17.30).
From 10th to 25th August: 9.30-18.00 (last entry at 17.30).

The Sacra di San Michele may not be visited in case of adverse weather conditions. For information, call the number +39 011939130.

Sacra di San Michele entry tickets

 

REDUCED TICKETS

  • Children from 6 to 18 years old
  • Adults over 65 years old
  • Disabled people and carers upon presentation of identity card
  • Serving members of the Security Forces (Army, Police, Carabineers, Customs and Excise, Fire Department), upon presentation of an identification card.
  • Admission tickets should be purchased in cash at the ticket office.

FREE ADMISSIONS

  • Children up to 6 years old
  • Authorised Tour guides on duty
  • Journalists registered and on duty and by previous agreement with the Rector.
  • Holders of museums subscription, Piedmont Card and Piedmont Card Jr., upon presentation of personal card.

NON GUIDED TOUR

From tuesday to sunday morning

Prices:
Full: € 8,00

Reduced: € 6,00 (from 6 to 18 years old and over 65)

Free: children under 6 years

Family ticket: 2 Adults and 2 Children (6 – 18 years old) € 6,00 p.p.

GUIDED TOUR

  • Sunday afternoons, and afternoons of the public holidays
  • Cost of the guided tour included in admission price.

Enjoy your visit to Sacra di San Michele!

 

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