Places of Spiritual Devotion
Albugnano - Biella - Buttigliera Alta - Domodossola - Ghiffa - Novalesa - Orta San Giulio - Revello - Sant'Ambrogio di Torino - Serralunga di Crea - Valperga - Varallo
Sant'Ambrogio di Torino (To)
Abbazia di Staffarda
In Medieval times the “Path of the Franks”, the main road to Gaul, ran through the Susa valley. Today, eight Benedictine monks live at the Novalesa abbey that once hosted Charlemagne. It offers spiritual renewal to travellers who arrive as modern day pilgrims. A similar site is found at the Sacra di San Michele , symbolic monument of the Piemonte region, where even the worldliest of visitors surrenders to the sacredness that pervades this abbey dedicated to archangel Michael. The abbey, that clings to the peak of the Pirchiriano mountain at the entrance of the Susa valley, was built in the late 10th century and is now an emblem of that Medieval Europe saturated with a culture that went beyond feudal territories. Another example of Medieval architecture can be seen along the Via Francigena (Path of the Franks): the Abbazia di Sant’ Antonio di Ranverso . It is here that Anthonian friars used to dedicate their lives to treatment of the “plagues” of the era such as leprosy and Herpes zoster (known as “fuoco di Sant’Antonio” – Saint Anthony’s fire). Today’s church is the result of restoration performed by Alfredo D’Andrade, who, around the middle of the second decade of the past century, attempted to revive the building’s appearance during the 15th century. The church is decorated with frescoes by Giacomo Jaquerio and a polyptych by Defendente Ferrari and the compound includes a monastery as well as the “Ospedaletto” (an area dedicated to treating the sick).
Among the many Romanesque churches in the province of Asti, the most important one is the Abbazia di Santa Maria di Vezzolano , whose architectural influences are accentuated by the harmonious surrounding landscape. The sandstone and terra cotta façade decorated with statues and capitals is attached to the narthex, a special portico that is a perfect example of Romanesque style. Another obligatory stop through the places of spiritual devotion is the Abbazia di Santa Maria di Staffarda , in the province of Cuneo along the Cavour-Pinerolo road. Founded in the first half of the 12th century by the Cistercian order, the abbey’s compound includes a church with an elegant columned cloister, monastic buildings and nine annexed farmhouses.
Our journey concludes with the seven Sacri Monti (Sacred Mounts) of Piemonte - Belmonte, Crea, Domodossola, Ghiffa, Oropa, Orta and Varallo Sesia – that bears witness to the historic, artistic, naturalistic and spiritual wealth of these places.
These sacred mounts are architectural and landscape complexes of a religious nature, part of a devotional journey – made up of stations, aedicules or chapels – culminating in a sanctuary. There are several religious themes that inspire the pilgrim’s course: the life of Christ, Way of the Cross, the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, lives of saints like Francis, and the Mysteries of the Rosary. Jewels of worship capable of uniting culture and devotional travels and at the same time offering phases of an itinerary of history, nature and traditions of fine foods and wines.
Date of last update: 12/01/2010
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