Even if I had to change my travel plans in 2020, I do not regret staying in Italy and explore my own surroundings. In fact, I am taking the time to visit places that are very close to my hometown which I never took the time to visit or visited only once long ago.
That is why I am spending my weekends roaming around through the Alps, the hillside of Langhe, Monferrato and Roero, the Lake district and many other places I have always underestimated or neglected.
Last Sunday I decided to visit one of the most beautiful medieval Abbeys of Italy, located at a very close distance from Torino, within the municipality of a village called Albugnano (which by the way is also the name of a very good local wine). The Abbey is called: Abbazia di Vezzolano.
Hidden into the woods of northern Monferrato, the Abbey is a real medieval magic that sticks to your heart and makes you want to stay there as long as possible.
When you get there the very first thing you see is the facade, which is tipically Romanesque
The Abbey is named after the Virgin Mary, and that is why, over the main portal you see and impressive medieval decoration depicting the Madonna on a throne with a dove speaking gently to her right ear.
The Abbey dates back to the year 1095 After Christ and went pretty powerful since then for at least a couple of centuries. However, the structure of the facade makes you think the Abbey is divided into 3 naves but when you get inside you discover there only are 2. The right nave in fact, had been cut out of the Church to build a section of the cloister, which in fact occupies such area.
Once inside I saw the most amazing medieval structure called “jubè” (or, with a difficult Italian word, “nartece”). This is a very beautiful “bridge” which divides the central nave in two section: the one before the altar for the members of Abbey and the one behind the bridge for the participants.
As you can see. from the point where I took the picture it is impossible to see the nave of the church and the altar is framed by the small gate in the bridge. These structures were pretty common during the Middle Ages, but after the Council of Trento, held in mid 1500s, they were all destroyed to allow a more complete participation of the audience. Very few are left in Italy. Vezzolano is one of them. There are two lines of bas relief on the bridge. The lower one displays the Patriarchs of the Virgin Mary, the upper one displays the her death, the deposition in the sepulchre and her Assumption.
You can still see the traces of the colours. In fact the bas relief was all painted. The blue colour is made with lapis lazuli.
I crossed the bridge and finally entered the main nave. It’s a real medieval show. It really doesn’t matter if you are religious or not. What amazes you is the ability of our ancestors to create such incredibly beautiful structures and their skills in mixing raw materials to get chromatic effects.
When you get close to the Altar, you see another beautiful medieval work of art: the triptych. On the left section you see a man on his knees, wearing a mantel with the symbol of the French Royal Family. Based on the most authoritative studies, when the king of France Charles Vth entered Italy on his way to Rome and Naples, he got sick of variola. So when he reached the Abbey, the monks decided to take care of him until he fully recovered and proceeded with his journey. Thus the triptych seems to be a donation by the King of France.
Once in front of the altar, i made a little excercise for my neckbone and looked above, to see an amazing pointed voult made of redbricks and sandstone.
Then, I took a left and entered the cloister which is good enough to deserve an aricle on its own.
For now, I hope you will enjoy these extra pictures of the Abbey