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Benedictine Abbey of SS. Peter and Andrew

What to see in Novalesa, Torino, Piedmont


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because of its strategic position, Charlemagne made of the Benedictine Abbey of Novalesa a privileged outpost for the advance of the Francs toward Italy and it further increased the possessions. Precisely in the Carolingian period the monastery lived the period of greatest splendour, becoming one of the beacons of the diffusion of European culture. Abandoned between the 906 and the 926 because of the Saracen invasions, was rebuilt from the XII century by a group of monks from the abbey of Breme, founded by the Community novalicense after escaping from the mother house.

In 1646 to the Benedictine monks, now in significantly reduced number, subentrarono the Reformed Cistercians of San Bernardo, which ressero abbey until its abolition, decreed in 1798 by the revolutionary government. In 1818 there fell the Benedictines, who settled coming from the Hospice of the Moncenisio, but their presence was brief as the abbey was again suppressed as a result of the laws of Savoy in 1855. Sold at auction, the complex was first purchased by dr. Maffoni, who made it into a center of hydrotherapy treatments, then by the Convitto Umberto I which used it as a summer residence. Finally, in 1972 the abbey was purchased by the Province of Torino, that there settled a new community of Benedictine monks from San Giorgio di Venezia, which resides today in the monastery.

Appended to the Abbey there are four chapels, the main of which dedicated to S. Eldrado, presents one of the most significant cycles Romanesque frescoes of Italy, dated 1096/97 and depicting scenes from the life of S. Eldrado and S. Nicola. Also interesting is the abbey church, built in its current shape in 1715 on a project by Antonio Bertola; it houses inside, on the left wall of the nave, remains of frescoes of the XI century, while another cycle dating back to the XV century decorates the choir.

The abbey has been recently enriched by the opening of the Archeological Museum, which collects the finds discovered during the excavations and archaeological surveys made between 1978 and 2008. The Museum, located in the area of the portico of the cloister of the novices and in the ancient refectory of the abbey, collects in its interior elements stone, ceramic, glassy and fresco dating from the I century A.D. until the Renaissance era. The abbey also houses a laboratory of restoration of the book, whose techniques are illustrated in the section dedicated to this art inside the Archaeological Museum.

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