Sacra di San Michele Monastery

Sacra di San Michele Monastery

[ June 2018 ] The monastery called Sacra di San Michele stands magnificently on top of a mountain in Piedmont in Italy.

This mountain is called Pirchiriano, with a height of 962 metres.

The original name was “Porcarianus”, meaning “pig mountain”.

Around here, not only is there pig mountain, but also there is also goat mountain and donkey mountain and apparently they are related to the old religion of the Celtic people who lived around here a long, long time ago.

I learned this trivia from the booklet we bought at the monastery.

One of the reasons we wanted to see this monastery was that this building inspired Umberto Eco, the Italian author who wrote the famous “The Name of the Rose”.

This interesting thriller set in the 14th century monastery became a film, too.

In reality, this monastery has a history beginning at the end of the 10th century.

For about 600 years, it was a monastery of the Order of St. Benedict, but when it was abolished in 1622, there were only three monks and one of them was blind.

After that, for about 200 years, it was abandoned.

In 1836, the King of the House of Savoy, who was ruling this area at the time, revived here as the monastery of Rosminian Fathers.

They brought 24 bodies of members of the Savoy family here from the cathedral of Turin.

We saw the grey coffins at the back of the church there.

In 1994, it was recognised as a ‘Monument symbolising the Piedmont region‘ and now there are about 1000-1500 visitors every weekend.

The building was integrated with rocks, which reminded me of a village in Portugal called Monsanto, but the building itself was majestic, like the Edinburgh castle in Scotland.

The entrance fee was €8 and they lent the information sheets in many languages, including English and Japanese.

The first thing we saw indoor was the long steep staircase.

This is called “The Stairway of the Dead” and it used to be the burial place for monks.

The dark and cold imagery perfectly matched the name and that was the most impressive part of the building.

The building was expanded and rebuilt many times and now there are modern walkways and a lift, too.

The part which was built between the 12th and the 14th century was left as ruins and the tower called Bell’Alda (beautiful Alda) was here.

According to the legend, this beautiful girl, Alda, was once running away from a soldier and had no choice but to jump from this tower.

But the angels saved her, so she did not have any injuries.

However, tasting success, she jumped again for money and crushed herself on the deep cliff.

This monastery was really worth visiting, but as for the monk, we saw only one in the church.

We used the shuttle bus from the nearby town, Avigliana, to get here.

It cost only €4 for the return journey.

Maybe because it was not frequent or because it is not well known, we were the only passengers.