Itinerario 2 - Susa and Novalesa

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Leaving Susa, the itinerary will take you through the Cenischia Valley, one of the main historical transit routes across the Alps: this ancient road was used in Middle Ages to reach France through  the Mount Cenis pass.

The Benedictine abbey of SS. Peter and Andrew is strategically placed on a grassy slope at the foot of the mountain near Novalesa. The abbey was founded in 726 and is one of the oldest monastery of the Alps: Charlemagne stayed here on several occasion and granted at the abbey an enormous power and international fame.

The characteristics of the place inspired the birth of many legends also linked to the Mount Rocciamelone (3.538 metres).

The village of Novalesa was a place where travelers could find accommodation before crossing the Mount Cenis pass. The parish church of Saint Stephen houses valuable paintings of Le Moyne, the Schools of Rubens and the Caravaggio and gifts donated by Napoleon Bonaparte to the Mount Cenis hospice.

The Old Town of the city of Susa still retains it's alpine style and charm. The antiquity of its origin is testified by the druidic rock carvings (cup marks) found in a stone in the higher point of the city. The early examples of Roman architecture are testified by the Arch of Augustus, built in 8th BC using the white marble of local quarries, by the remains of the aqueduct, of the castrum, the arena and the temple. The Medieval examples of architecture are testified by the cathedral of saint Giusto, erected in 1029 as a Benedictine monastery, by the ancient parish church of saint Mary Major, by the convent of saint Francis (XIII century) and by the Castle. Other items worthy of note (dated between the IV and the XX century) are housed in the Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra and in the Museo Civico (gradually set up in the Castle).

 

Activities

You can visit the abbey of Novalesa, where the Benedictine monks will accompany you to discover the beautiful Chapel of saint Eldrado, painted with frescoes dating to the XI century, built in a panoramic position and surrounded by an immense park. The abbey today also houses the Archaeological Museum which contains the archaeological findings emerging from the excavation campaigns and also a section dedicated to the restoration of books, an activity that is still practiced in the abbey. Then you can go into the alpine centre of Novalesa for a walk in the narrow alleys and courtyards of this characteristic alpine village: the centre of Novalesa is dominated by the parish church of saint Stephen with some pictures painted in the style of Caravaggio, the Museum of Alpine Religious Art and other artistic works of this village that was a place where travelers could find accommodation before crossing the Alps, through the Mount Cenis. Here the travelers could hire the marrons, the legendary alpine guides who would continue with them up the mule trails across the pass.

The discover of the history and the art of the city of Susa start with a walk in its beautiful streets, where you can see the monuments and the rich cultural heritage of this city, called the “Door of Italy” for its strategic position. Do not miss to taste the typical local pastries: among the most famous sweet you can not forget the unmistakable fragrance of the inimitable Focaccia of Susa.

 

 

 

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