Susa, ancient gateway to Italy

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Author Alessandro 18 October 2022
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The city of Susa is a crossroads of transalpine routes between Italy and France for millennia, a transit route for caravans of goods and pilgrims. In fact, the roads to Monginevro, Moncenisio, Colle delle Finestre, and Turin converge in Segusium.

Susa, ancient gateway to Italy
Susa, ancient gateway to Italy

The map: Susa (TO)

Below, we have indicated the historical points of interest (in brown) and the natural ones (in green). We have also marked the parking areas where camping and van parking seem to be tolerated as of June 2023, as well as the dedicated camper parking. Finally, we have indicated the points where water can be obtained.

The main political events of Susa

It is difficult to establish the era in which the city was first inhabited. It is certain that among the populations that settled there were the Ligurians and then the Celts (around 500 BC) who merged with the former.

In the earliest documented records, Susa is the capital of the Kingdom of the Cozi, in the province of the Cozie Alps.

Around the 1st century BC, the Romans led by Julius Caesar arrived at Segusium (from the Gaulish word “sego” meaning “fortress”), as it was called under the reign of the Cozi. They fought against the local populations and established an alliance with their king, Donno, aimed at ensuring safe passage for troops and goods to Gaul through the Colle Clapier and Colle del Monginevro passes.

The Arch of Augustus, built in 8 BC and still present today in the decorations of the pediment, celebrates this peace. The good relations established by the construction of the arch continued for a long period.

In the 3rd century, the city built a city wall, traces of which are still preserved along the via dei Fossali, the current Corso Unione Sovietica. However, this was not enough to protect it from the siege and fire by Constantine’s troops in 312.

In 476, with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, a period of decline began for Susa. After the death of Odoacer, it became part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Theodoric. With the end of the Gothic War, it was assimilated into the Prefecture of the Praetorian of Italy until it was conquered by the troops of Alboin and annexed to the Lombard Kingdom.

Taking advantage of the period of anarchy following the death of Cleph, the Merovingian king Guntram, king of the Franks of Orléans, defeated the Lombards, annexing Aosta and Susa in 575, which, following the conquest of the Lombard Kingdom by Charlemagne in 774, followed the fate of the Kingdom of Italy.

In the 11th century, Susa became one of the focal points of the domination of the Arduinici of Turin and the first outpost of the House of Savoy thanks to the marriage between Countess Adelaide, daughter of Olderico Manfredi, Marquis of Turin, and Oddone of Moriana, son of Umberto Biancamano. The Roman Castrum thus became the property of the House of Savoy, and Susa became the residence of noble families and the merchant bourgeoisie.

Several monumental complexes from the Middle Ages still remain, such as the Castle of Countess Adelaide, the Baptismal Parish Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Abbey of San Giusto, the Convent of S. Francesco, the medieval arcaded houses, the De Bartolomei House, and the two towers in the town center.

Its strategic position facing the lands of Dauphiné led to a significant development of military presence in the square. Around the mid-16th century, under Duke Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy, a modern defensive layout was built: the rocky hills surrounding the town became the site of imposing fortifications for control over the passes.

When Susa was captured by Napoleon, the fortifications were dismantled, and it was granted the title of a city.

In 1854, it was reached by the railway with the Turin-Susa line, of which the terminus station remains almost intact. Between 1868 and 1871, it became an interchange with the Fell system railway of the Moncenisio Railway, part of the Valise of the Indies.

What to see

What to see in Susa
What to see in Susa

Thanks to its history, Susa boasts an incredible amount of buildings and historical sites, especially considering the small size of the town.

There are numerous monuments and artifacts from the Celtic, Roman, and medieval periods, such as sacrificial altars, the aqueduct, the Castrum and Roman arena, Porta Savoia, medieval urban houses, and the castle.

There are also several religious complexes, including the Cathedral of San Giusto (formerly a Benedictine abbey), the complex of Santa Maria Maggiore (Augustinian canonry), and San Francesco (the first Franciscan convent in Piedmont).

Archaeological Area of Susa

Segusio, the archaeological area of Susa located between the Arch of Augustus, the Archaeological Aqueduct, and the plateau of Countess Adelaide’s Castle, showcases a significant historical and monumental ensemble related to the Romanization of the alpine district, late antique fortification, and medieval fortification.

In Piazza Savoia, where the Porta del Paradiso stands (a Roman city gate), the remains of the Temple of the Forum were unearthed between 2005 and 2008 during restoration works.

In the castle courtyard, a series of structures belonging to the early palace of the governor of the Roman province of Alpes Cottiae (Praetorium) were discovered.

Among the oldest artifacts in the city, beyond the arch dedicated to Augustus, is a monumental entrance with a stone staircase (1st century AD) that was used to overcome the difference in height between the street level and the entrance of the governor’s palace.

To the south of the ancient center, between S. Francesco Street and Consolata Street, stands the Roman Amphitheater of Segusio.

Roman Amphitheater or Antonine Arena (2nd century AD)

Our visit to Susa began at the Roman Amphitheater (or Antonine Arena), where gladiatorial combats and hunting scenes (the venationes) took place.

Likely submerged by the floods of the Gelassa River in 1610 and 1728, it was rediscovered in the 1960s. The site was opened to the public in 1969.

The structure constitutes, together with the amphitheater of Cemenelum-Cimiez (France), one of the smallest entertainment buildings in the Roman world. It has an elliptical shape with tiered seating that takes advantage of the mountain slope. Inside the cavea, there is a circular tunnel with a barrel vault that runs along the podium, the wall surrounding the arena, where the fauces (openings) towards the carceres (chambers) housed the animals before the fights.

In summer, at sunset, the last point touched by the sun is the eastern VIP tribune, presumably intended for distinguished spectators. The podium was finely plastered and probably decorated with architectural sculptures. The Susa Civic Museum preserves an interesting bas-relief discovered in the amphitheater, representing a female figure holding a dagger in her right hand.

The entrances were located at the ends of the major axis, perhaps originally equipped with monumental gates through which the spectators entered.

The complex is open to the public every day from 9:00 am until sunset, with free and unrestricted access.

Graian Baths and Roman Aqueduct (4th century AD)

Entering Via degli Archi, after a few steps, we find ourselves facing the remains of ancient arches rediscovered only in 1834. Their origin has long been a subject of speculation. The most widely accepted hypothesis, based on comparisons with similar structures and some findings on-site, is that they are the remains of an aqueduct dating back to the 4th century AD.

It is presumed that the structure served to transport water, likely sourced from Gravere, to Segusium, where it was then distributed to the public baths and the Graian Baths, commissioned by Emperors Gratian, Valens, and Valentinian between 375 and 378.

Inside the castle enclosure and in other parts of the city, water canalization and storage systems were found. During a restoration intervention of the arches, the presence of a terracotta water conduit was discovered in the upper part.

The name of the Graian Baths was deduced from an inscription found in Susa, which is now lost, mentioning them together with the aqueduct that supplied them.

Other Historical Hypotheses

Among historians, some have speculated that the arches were part of a defensive structure, while others believed them to be sacred constructions since they joined the tower beneath which legend has it that the tomb of King Cozio was located.

These arches, along with the Arch of Augustus, did become part of a defensive structure, but that was not their original purpose. During the Middle Ages, amid barbarian invasions, they were transformed into city gates and connected through fortifications to the defensive walls of the castle.

The masonry is divided into two parts: the lower part consists of irregularly squared blocks of limestone and reused marble ashlars, while the upper part, probably added later, is made of irregular stonework with a facing of pebbles and small squared stones, bound by mortar. The openings were then walled up, and only in the last twenty years of the nineteenth century were the infills removed.


The main arch was created by cutting into the rock to allow the passage of the Roman road to the Monginevro, possibly the Via delle Gallie. Below the smaller arch, there is a well carved into the rock by the Celts, the dating of which is uncertain.

The area is always accessible to the public.

Celtic Sacrificial Altar (2nd-1st century BC)

Near the Roman aqueduct, there are rocky outcrops with carved hollows. These are almost certainly Celtic altars. It is hypothesized that they served as pagan altars for bloody sacrifices. It is believed that the Druids used these rocks as sacrificial altars for animals and humans, and they interpreted auspices based on the flow of blood in the carvings.

The precise and accurate craftsmanship of the hollows and basins is connected by straight or winding channels. The basins and channels have square sections, and the hollows are perfectly smooth. This indicates the use of metal tools, as evidenced by a series of seven orthogonal steps (prior to the construction of the aqueduct arches) that continue beneath the Roman pillar and appear to be related to the complex of carvings.

The cups
The cups

Considering the use of metal tools and the older age compared to the Roman construction of the 3rd century AD, it can be hypothesized that these structures date back to the Iron Age when the Celts were already settled in Piedmont (2nd-1st century BC).

The discovery took place only in 1949 when the grass covering the rocks was removed, revealing the carvings.

Arch of Augustus (9 - 8 BC)

Beyond the ancient Roman aqueduct, on an altar of Celtic origin facing Rocciamelone, we find the Arch of Augustus.

Erected on the ancient road to Gaul by Cozius, king of the Segusii (ruler of the ancient Alpine kingdom of Donno), to seal the peace with Augustus the conqueror, the imposing Arch of Augustus dominates the city of Susa, framing the Rocciamelone, a mountain already sacred to the Druids.

The well-preserved arch is clad in blocks of white marble from the nearby quarries of Foresto.

The large celebratory inscription, repeated on each side, and the underlying frieze commemorate the treaty and alliance concluded with Rome around 13 BC.

With the peace treaty, the territory of the city became part of the Roman State, and the Celtic inhabitants became Latin citizens by right. King Cozius assumed the status of a Roman knight and the name of the Julia dynasty, becoming the prefect of 14 cities in the Cottian Alps.

On the north and south sides, along the long sides of the arch, a scene of suovetaurilia is depicted (named after the poor sacrificial victims used to seal the alliance: a pig, sus, a ram, ovis, a bull, taurus), the bloody sacrifice performed by Cozius in the presence of the Romans.

The Roman area is always accessible.

Roman Walls and Gates of Susa (12th century)

The Roman remains of Susa include a nearly intact circuit of walls, dating back to the 3rd century in its oldest parts.

In good condition for most of its course, according to some scholars, it represents one of the best-preserved examples of a Gallic fortified city from late antiquity. It helps the historic center of Susa maintain its peculiar medieval urbis form, which has remained virtually intact through the centuries.

The fortifications of Segusium included masonry curtains filled with reclaimed materials and interspersed with connecting towers open on the inside. The Roman gates opened along the perimeter, including Porta Savoia, which is still in use today as the porta urbis.

Segusium was probably fortified around the 3rd century by modifying the existing urban layout and cutting off large portions, such as the forum. It was meant to defend Susa, the gateway to Italy from Northern Europe, against possible barbarian attacks.

This work was done in haste, as evidenced by the extensive reuse of stone materials, including marbles, such as the torsos recovered from the Segusian walls, now preserved in the Museum of Antiquities of Turin.

The stronghold of the circuit was likely the palacium located on the city’s rock. In 312, Constantine conquered the city, which was allied with Maxentius. Around the 10th century, the palacium on the rock was probably replaced by the medieval castle.

Starting from the castle and heading south along the city walls, you will find the towers of the Fossali area, ending to the east at the Porta di Piemonte. To the east, the circuit gradually approached the Dora Riparia river. In the closest section to the river, on the northwest corner, the walls make a corner, returning to the castle. Porta Savoia is located in this section.

With Constantine’s conquest, the first enclosure was equipped with other fortified gates (such as the one that was supposed to be near the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the House of the Canons) to allow communication with the outside. On the west plain of the walls, a second stronghold, the Bishop’s Tower or S. Andrea Tower, was probably built later.

A second enclosure enclosed the areas of the city occupied by the nobility and probably the merchants. Ancient portals of noble palaces and a fortified house that resembles the Casaforte di Chianocco remain.

Medieval alterations reduced the height of the walls from 12 to 6 meters. Porta Savoia underwent a similar fate, but with a less noticeable lowering. The other two urban gates were destroyed, while the southeast part was modified by interventions in the 20th century.

Since Susa was an important crossroads of the ancient Via delle Gallie and later the Via Francigena, the names of the gates refer to the three different regions they provide access to:

Porta Savoia (3rd-4th century AD)

In the direction of Northern Europe, Porta Savoia, or Porta del Paradiso due to its proximity to the cemetery of the Cathedral of San Giusto, provides access to Savoy through the Mont Cenis.

Porta di Piemonte (3rd-4th century AD)

In the present-day Piazza Trento, adjacent to Casa de Bartolomei, Porta di Piemonte was rediscovered in the 1990s by demolishing an 18th-century outpost.

Similar in design to Porta Savoia, it preserves one of the two cylindrical towers, about three stories high, supporting the current civic tower of Susa.

In the Middle Ages, it was called Porta Merceriarum due to its location near buildings used as warehouses by merchants who based themselves in Susa before crossing the Mont Cenis.

Porta di Francia

In the direction of Southwest Europe towards Southern France, Porta di Francia leads to France through the Colle del Monginevro. Known in antiquity as Porta pedis castri and as Porta Castello, it connects on one side to the Roman walls of Susa and on the other to the southern corner of the Castle of Countess Adelaide.

Parliament Tower

In the commercial heart of old Susa, in a corner of the current via Francesco Rolando, we find the Parliament Tower, massive, robust, and somewhat degraded.

Casa de’ Bartolomei

An excellent example of Gothic architecture in Susa, although unfortunately in poor condition, is Casa de’ Bartolomei. Located on the street of the same name, it was the birthplace of Arrigo De’ Bartolomei, one of the most important medieval jurists, mentioned by Dante in the twelfth canto of Paradise.

The Borgo dei Nobili (13th century AD)

Borgo dei Nobili (13th century AD)
Borgo dei Nobili (13th century AD)

Outside the ancient walls, we find the Borgo dei Nobili, which was once inhabited mainly by the nobility who came to Susa with the Savoy family. The facades of the houses still display Romanesque and Gothic elements.

Borgo dei Nobili (13th century AD)
Borgo dei Nobili (13th century AD)

Tower of the Rotari (14th century AD)

In Piazza Bartolomei, behind Casa de’ Bartolomei, you can admire the Tower of the Rotari, built for defense and surveillance by the Rotari family of Asti.

This square masonry building, with its heavily deteriorated battlements, preserves some single windows and hanging arches.

Temple of the Forum (1st century BC - 1st century AD)

In 2005, during some pavement restoration work in Piazza Savoia, an ancient Corinthian tetrastyle pseudo-peripteral temple on a high podium was accidentally discovered. The construction dates back to the Augustan Age, as part of the process of monumentalizing the city following an agreement between King Cozio and Octavian.

The location and quality of the design suggest that this was the main sacred building of the Forum of ancient Segusio.

The entire building is indeed constructed with extraordinary regularity and according to precise proportional criteria among its parts, indicating a sophisticated and meticulous architectural design, possibly prepared elsewhere and realized here.

Particular attention was given to the collection and diversion of rainwater, as evidenced by the gap between the foundation of the crypt and the terrace, which probably housed a canal and could be connected to upper drainpipes for collecting rainfall.

The main facade is marked by four columns carefully arranged according to Vitruvian principles.

Above the podium stood the pronaos that provided access to the cella. From the temple terrace, a staircase descended to the lower square.

The construction material, marble, was obtained from the quarries of Foresto, already exploited for the nearby arch dedicated to Emperor Augustus.

Today, the foundations, the retaining walls of the entrance staircase, those defining the cella, and the massive pillars on the lower level of the crypt, which probably supported two long barrel vaults running parallel above them, on which the colonnade of the terrace rested, are still clearly visible.

Other significant remains of the portico had already been identified in excavation trenches near the late-ancient walls related to the Episcopal Seminary, and some elements of the architectural decoration can still be observed nearby.

The ruins, located in a parking area, await a redevelopment project.

Ruins of the Temple of the Forum
Ruins of the Temple of the Forum

Castle of Contessa Adelaide

On a rocky spur overlooking the city, on the ruins of the ancient Praetorium, the palace of the government of Cozio I, next to the Arch of Augustus, the Castle was built during the medieval period by the Arduinici marquises.

Castle of Contessa Adelaide
Castle of Contessa Adelaide

In the castle, the marchesa Adelaide (1020-91), an ancestor of the Savoy family, grew up and lived. She played a fundamental role in the fate of the dynasty. It was she who allowed the Savoys to expand beyond the Alps when she welcomed her husband Oddone di Savoia to the castle in 1046. With this marriage, the House of Savoy received as dowry the Marquisate of Susa, the Moncenisio Pass, the County of Turin, the Aosta Valley, and many territories and castles in Liguria.

Adelaide’s origins are shrouded in legend, but it is certain that she was the great-granddaughter of Arduino the Glabrio, who liberated the valley from the Saracens in 976. Her face remains unknown, and her tomb has never been found.

However, it is known that she skillfully navigated between popes and emperors.

In 1077, her son-in-law Henry IV, who was excommunicated by the Pope, traveled to Italy to seek his forgiveness. Out of love for her daughter Berta, Adelaide accompanied him to Canossa to meet with Pope Gregory VII. It was Adelaide who secured his pardon from the Pope. This event gave rise to the saying “to go to Canossa,” which means to undergo a tremendous humiliation.

As a widow, Adelaide wielded power with skill. To defend her feudal rights against the aspirations of the municipalities and bishops, she ruled with an iron fist. However, she was also a generous patroness who made donations to churches and convents, often strategically for the control of her valleys and, therefore, for the true power that the Savoys held in those centuries: the passage of the Alpine passes.

The Castle of Susa controlled the access to the Susa Valley, the passes to Val-Cenis, and the Clarée Valley through the Montgenèvre Pass.

Due to her generosity, the people loved her and called her the “Marchesa of the Cozie Alps.”

She passed away on December 19, 1091, in old age and was perhaps buried in the Parrocchiale di Canischio, in the Orco Valley, just above Cuorgnè, where she lived her last years.

Between 1213 and 1214, the Castle of Contessa Adelaide di Susa hosted Saint Francis of Assisi on his journey to France.

After the Peace of Chateau Cambresis and the return of the Susa Valley to the Savoys, the Castle hosted the meeting that sealed the peace. However, the peace did not last long, and the castle once again hosted peace negotiations in the seventeenth century.

In 1629, two other illustrious guests stayed there for a long time: King Louis XIII of France and Cardinal Richelieu.

In 1750, during the wedding between the future Victor Amadeus III and Maria Antonia of Spain, the castle was renovated and acquired its current appearance.

Today, the Castle of Contessa Adelaide, which houses the Civic Museum, offers visitors the opportunity to admire a unique panorama from its towers and to explore the rooms that once belonged to the Marchesa.

Visiting hours can be found on the official website of the Castle of Contessa Adelaide.

The Crypt

While dismantling the wooden choir for restoration, some remains emerged. From the excavation conducted beneath the apse floor, the cathedral’s crypt appeared, dating back to the 11th century.

No historical source had ever mentioned the existence of a crypt within the cathedral. The excavation led to the discovery of a perfectly preserved underground room, with an amphitheater-like staircase, marvelous stuccos depicting animals, capitals, a Roman slab dedicated to Minerva, and what was probably a gilded bronze reliquary.

Structures of this type and integrity can only be found in the old, no longer existent, structure of the Basilica of San Pietro in Rome or in the Cathedral of Ravenna. These reasons prompted the superintendent to request an extraordinary financial intervention from the Ministry to continue the excavation works.

How the crypt came to be covered remains a mystery. The most probable hypotheses are an earthquake or a sudden calamity, as the structure was suddenly buried, leaving everything in its place.

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (18th century)

A small Baroque church designed by the Segusian architect Carlo Andrea Rana (famous especially for his treatises on fortifications), built on ruins dating back to the 14th century. It was used until 1847 to house the remains of the bishops of Segusium and has been a military shrine since 1967.

Convent of San Francesco (mid-13th century)

The convent complex of San Francesco, nestled on the gentle slope overlooking the city of Susa to the south, surrounded by a vast and well-kept park, is rich in art and history.

Unique in its kind for being located within the Alpine arc and not close to it, it acquired an important role throughout the middle and lower Valleys. Numerous members of local noble families requested and obtained the privilege of being buried in the convent’s church.

The origins of the Convent, mentioned in a Papal Bull of 1254, date back to the mid-13th century.

Legend attributes the foundation to Saint Francis himself, who passed through Susa in 1214 and would have donated a piece of his own tunic to Beatrice of Savoy in exchange for a piece of land where to build the convent for his friars. The relic of Saint Francis’ tunic sleeve is preserved at the Church of the Capuchin Friars Minor in Annecy.

The buildings were constructed with materials salvaged from the nearby Roman amphitheater, featuring Gothic forms with Romanesque influences.

The religious building was inhabited by the Conventual Franciscans until their suppression during the Napoleonic occupation.

From 1802, it was used as a saltpeter depot and shelter for troops, and later, until the last quarter of the 19th century, destined for civilian purposes.

Summoned by the Bishop of Susa, Edoardo Giuseppe Rosaz, in 1889, the Franciscan friars remained in the Segusian house until October 5, 2008, when they definitively left the convent, which now serves as a guesthouse for groups and individual pilgrims retracing the Via Francigena del Moncenisio.

The Old Sacristy

The church, the ancient sacristy of the convent of San Francesco in Susa, is believed to have been built on Roman remains. It is oriented towards the east with an octagonal apse to the east, preserved in its original layout, with a central nave twice as wide as the side aisles, marked by mighty pillars with capitals.

It has a projecting tripartite facade with pilasters, which is atypical in Piedmont (where a smooth and gabled facade is preferred) and possibly of French influence.

The gable encloses the sandstone portal with mighty pillars adorned with delicate geometric, botanical, and zoomorphic decorations on the capitals.

The current floor, about one meter below the external street level, is believed to have been raised due to frequent floods from the Rio Gelassa.

The interior has a three-aisled plan with a transept, which is now closed to create two chapels (the one on the right serves as the current sacristy). The apse, probably built at a later time between the late 13th century and the early 14th century (polygonal with seven sides, following a rare Gothic pattern from southern France in 1200s Italy), is the best-preserved part according to the original architecture.

The capitals of the columns in the central nave can be dated between the 1230s and 1250s.

The church was renovated in the 1600s with the construction of vaults. The interior decoration dates back to the restoration work carried out by Arborio Mella between 1880 and 1887. The furnishings from the same period reflect the neogothic taste of the late 19th century.

Two beautiful cloisters and frescoes from the 14th and 15th centuries can be found in various parts of the building.

Below the left transept, a crypt with human remains was discovered.

In the left transept, which has recently been rediscovered and restored, you can find The Crucifixion, The Last Judgment, the ride of the three living and the three dead. Fragments of a Madonna, Christ, and saints can also be seen in the sub-arch and the Evangelists on the vault.

In the right transept, there are the seated Evangelists on elaborate seats, busy writing the Gospel, with a verse inscribed on a scroll. Next to each of them are their symbols: the eagle for John, the winged calf for Luke, the lion with a human face for Mark, and the angel for Matthew. Saints Peter and Paul are also depicted with their respective symbols: the keys for St. Peter and the book for St. Paul.

On the left wall of the entrance door of the current sacristy, there are the figures of Mary Magdalene on the right and Mary on the left, with Saint Bernard further away.

During recent restorations, additional frescoes from the mid-1300s of Saint Clare and Saint Francis receiving the stigmata on Mount La Verna were uncovered.

The Cloisters

The convent complex is enriched by the presence of two splendid cloisters from different periods located on the south side, at different levels of the ground, which show significant alterations from later epochs.

The first cloister, accessed from the church, is the Cloister of San Francesco. The chapter house overlooks this cloister. From the first cloister, you can access the Cloister of Sant’Antonio, which is older, smaller, and topped by an evocative open loggia called the Loggia of Frate Elia. The loggia features frescoed lunettes depicting the life of Saint Anthony.

A well stands at the center of both cloisters.

During the restoration work carried out in the 2000s, additional frescoes dating back to the 1340s were discovered in the chapter house south of the right transept.

Within a white quadrilobate frame inscribed in a circle, there is a frescoed band with eight quadrilobe medallions, dating from the mid to late 1300s, depicting figures of Franciscan saints and blessed individuals: Saint Francis receiving the stigmata, Saint Clare, Saint Louis of Toulouse, Saint Anthony of Padua, blessed Leo with a bishop’s mitre, blessed Otto, blessed Duns Scotus, blessed Nicholas, Accursius, and two figures whose names have been erased.

The structure is always open, but reservations are required for guided tours of the church and cloister.

Church of San Saturnino (circa 11th century)

Outside the city, in the countryside on private land, the Church of San Saturnino was erected on the site where, according to tradition, San Saturnino was martyred.

The Romanesque bell tower has a square plan, is slender and elegant, and features graceful twin windows (bifores) that gradually enlarge on the upper three floors. Lesenes and string courses with hanging arches divide the building’s levels, which are well-preserved on the exterior.

The interior, which was already in decline at the beginning of the 18th century and subsequently abandoned, is in ruins.

The exact year of its foundation is unknown, but it is known that there was already a chapel dedicated to the saint in ancient times. It is believed that the current church was built, perhaps on the ruins of a pagan temple. The discovery of Roman artifacts on-site suggests that there was a pagan temple dedicated to the Matronae goddesses before the church.

The first documented mention dates back to the diploma of Cuniberto, Bishop of Turin (1065), in which it was donated, along with the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Susa, to the Prepositura of Oulx.

Due to its rural environment, it exhibits a slightly less refined character compared to other contemporary constructions. It seems to have been of little importance and was only sporadically officiated.

In 1231, a certain Rodolfo Baralis (or Barralis) from Susa bequeathed the lands he owned in the region of San Saturnino to the Congregation of Canons of Oulx in his will. He requested the construction of a priory of at least three canons, with the obligation to reside and officiate in the Church of San Saturnino, which was under the jurisdiction of the same Congregation. This occasion transformed the simple church into a monastery. The same testator had also ordered the introduction of improvements:

precepit heredibus suis [ut res] ab eo legatas… accipiant… ad res legatas meliorandas.

The priory was undoubtedly established: later documents mention it repeatedly, and the appearance of the buildings still connected to the Church confirms it. However, it does not seem to have ever achieved great prosperity or particular importance, so much so that in 1607, the patron family of Baralis complained about its poor efficiency.

After the suppression of the Provostship of Oulx in 1748, the same fate befell the Priory, and the almost abandoned buildings further declined.

The ownership of the complex passed to the new Collegiate Church of Canons, established in 1748 in S. Giusto di Susa through the union of the former Lateran Canons with those of S. Maria Maggiore. When the Diocese was founded in 1772, it passed to the Canons of the Cathedral Chapter.

Restoration work was carried out on the bell tower in the 1980s, and in 2001, interior renovations were done, particularly on the floor and roof.

Baptismal Parish of Santa Maria Maggiore

The ancient baptismal parish of Santa Maria Maggiore in Susa was an Augustinian canonry, the oldest and most important baptismal church in Susa and the valley, predating the Cathedral of San Giusto. It was an important coordination center for the Catholic religion in the Susa Valley during the Middle Ages, and numerous parish churches in the lower Susa Valley depended on it. Later, it came under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Provostship of San Lorenzo di Oulx.

It was dedicated from its origins to the Virgin, and the epithet maggiore indicates its antiquity and importance in the religious hierarchy of the city.

According to legend, it dates back to the 1st century AD when a group of faithful converts from Saint Paul and Saint Peter, to escape persecution, headed north and reached the foot of our Alps. The then prefect of Susa, who had already converted to Christianity, welcomed and protected the refugees, founding this small church for them.

According to another belief, the building was previously a temple dedicated to Neptune because a two-pronged iron instrument is visible on the bell tower (hence the popular name campanile della forchetta - fork bell tower). That instrument, initially thought to be a trident, was believed to be the symbol of the sea god. However, scholars have refuted this theory, although they have also overlooked the fact that clay figurines representing idols were found in the underground chambers.

Before the foundation of the Diocese of Susa, after alternating and complicated religious and political events, the church was definitively closed, deconsecrated, and its furnishings were transferred to the Abbey of San Giusto. It eventually became the site of six civilian dwellings, warehouses, and partly owned by the municipality. Some parts of it are in a state of ruin, and only recently significant restoration work has been carried out, allowing us to appreciate its beauty.

Around the year 1000, a document specifically mentions Santa Maria Maggiore, a building reconstructed after the destruction by the Saracens, emphasizing its importance by indicating its spiritual jurisdiction over almost forty parishes in the valley and its dependence on it of the Baptistery that served the entire area.

In addition to documentary sources, its prominent role in the ecclesiastical landscape of the Susa Valley can also be inferred from the ratio between the main nave and the side aisles (1.2:1), which deviates from the usual modules of early Romanesque architecture and indicates its archaic nature.

The ancient architectural structure remains legible in its main elements, such as the triple-lancet window that illuminates the interior and the wheel window that enriches the façade. The original layout and building materials, which have been modified over time, are evident in the alternation of stone and brick.

The façade is entirely made of brick, with bands of stone that emphasize its shape and open only to the entrance portal and the wheel window. The body of the building, made of brick and stone in horizontal rows, is divided into three horizontal bands: the lower one has large blind arches, the middle one has the wheel window, and the upper one is adorned with Lombard bands.

Inside, the original triple-lancet window with a large wheel window above it and the three-aisled structure of the hall are still recognizable. The eastern apse is no longer present, but its outline can be traced back to the existing structure.

The interventions carried out in the 2001 restoration made it possible to recover the ancient and original paving and roof structure, as well as the removal of the stucco that covered the walls, revealing the alternation of stone and brick.

Augusto's Garden
Augusto's Garden

Divided into three aisles, without a transept, like all Romanesque churches, the apse originally faced east until the Baroque period when the orientation was reversed. The façade was moved to the original apse’s location, in line with the current Via Martiri della Libertà. A plan of the canonical complex can be found in a contribution by Luca Patria, available online.

The ancient gabled façade is illuminated by a cross-shaped window, a rose window, and a small single mullioned window.

There is no trace of an entrance door since the entrance was lateral, made of stone. It is surmounted by a pyramid-shaped spire covered with stone slabs, which ends with the bidente, likely a cross deformed by time.

On the ground floor, there is a small room carved within the thickness of the walls, serving as an internal entrance to the church. From the first floor, which is part of the path of a walkway, one can access the bell cell, from where the entire monastery complex can be seen by looking out through the triple lancet windows: the church, bell tower, cloister, and inner courtyards.

The bell tower has an almost square base, is about 40 meters high, and leans against the city walls. Brick friezes and blind arches highlight its levels, which are illuminated by single mullioned windows, then double mullioned windows, triple lancet windows, and the bell cell.

The Cloister and the Canons’ House

The complex was likely composed of other buildings besides the church: to the south, the cloister, now transformed into a square; to the north, with access from Piazza San Giusto, the Canons’ House, probably the representative palace of the complex which, in the late Middle Ages, was an emanation of the provostship of San Lorenzo di Oulx.

Of the Canons’ House, which collapsed in the 1990s but from which an important medieval civil fresco depicting the months of the year was saved (now preserved in the local Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art), some deteriorated Gothic arches of the portico remain.

The domus helemosinaria

On the other side of the current Via Martiri della Libertà, opposite the church, there must have been a domus helemosinaria, a hospitality house for pilgrims on the Via Francigena del Moncenisio, which was later demolished in the 18th century to build the Palazzo della Provincia di Susa.

Sacred furnishings

It is believed that some sacred furnishings from the parish church of Santa Maria Maggiore are now present in other religious buildings, such as the medieval marble altar by Pietro da Lione, currently preserved in the sacristies of the Cathedral of San Giusto, and the large sculpted baptismal font, commissioned by Provost Pietro II of the provostship of San Lorenzo di Oulx, now located in the current Baptistery of San Giusto.

An ancient fountain, transferred centuries ago to Giaveno, has been lost, and only a drawing of its inscription remains, preserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library.

Church of Sant’Evasio

As the city’s second parish, it is dedicated to the bishop and martyr St. Evasio.

In the past, it was considered the “countryside church” or “outside the walls” due to its location relative to the historic center of Susa, where the farmers from the surrounding lands presumably attended Mass.

There isn’t much historical information available. What is certain is its ancient origins, as it is listed among the existing churches in the city of Susa in the diploma of Bishop Cunimberto (1065), along with the Church of San Saturnino.

It consists of a single nave, a main altar, and two minor altars, respectively dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Madonna of Lourdes. In the vault of the presbytery, there is an ancient painting of St. Evasio.

At the west end, there is a wooden choir loft, and in the apse area, there is an 18th-century retable on the ancient high altar.

A large bell tower with a square base, covered by a pyramidal spire, leans against the façade located in the inhabited center, against another building that has compromised the development of the nave, which appears much smaller in size compared to the presbytery.

In the second half of the 18th century, it was transformed, and today it appears disproportionate in terms of height and width.

Next to the church stood the Convent and the Church of the Capuchins, erected in 1614 and dedicated to Saints Roch and Sebastian, of which only the portal remains.

Church of Madonna del Ponte (13th-14th century)

On one bank of the Dora River, in the heart of the **village of Susa, stands the ancient medieval Church of Madonna del Ponte, dedicated to the *Madonna of Peace.

The church houses precious works of art. Since 2000, the complex has been the site of the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, which preserves the Treasury of the Cathedral of San Giusto and the most precious works of art from the Diocese of Susa.

In the past, it was the subject of special devotions, as well as pilgrimages and processions officiated by the clergy. It was the site of actual rituals, including the deposition of stillborn babies and the circumambulation within the chapel of the epileptics, who were believed to pass an entire year without being struck by the affliction they suffered from if they managed to survive the night without a seizure.

It was believed that in that place, the Madonna would resurrect them for an instant, just enough time to baptize them and save them from the condemnation of limbo.

The appearance of a breath on the lifeless face of the tiny body was enough for desperate mothers to be able to baptize and bury their little ones in consecrated ground.

Such sanctuaries, called “a repit” or “of the return to life,” or even “of the double death”, were quite common on both the Italian and French sides of the Alps, although ecclesiastical authorities sought to discourage this practice, which reached its peak in the 17th century.

Statue of Madonna del Ponte

The church’s title “Madonna” derives from a precious linden wood statue of the Madonna and Child, probably of French origin, which is now visible in the Diocesan Museum; “Del Ponte” refers to the sanctuary’s location near a bridge over the Dora River that divides the town in two.

Another valuable element present in the sanctuary is a late 14th-century fresco depicting the Annunciation, and along the north wall, another fresco depicting the Crucifixion from 1555.

Starting from the late 16th century, the sanctuary is also known as the “Madonna della Pace”, probably in memory of the Treaty of Vervins.


Since the left wall of the main nave rests on robust herringbone constructions, it is believed that the building emerged on the oldest ruins.

It has a gabled facade with a very linear tympanum, embellished with two lobed windows and a fresco depicting the Regina Pacis representing the Virgin holding an olive branch in her hand and the Child who seems to have entrusted a smaller one to a flying dove. In the background, you can glimpse the silhouette of the snow-covered Rocciamelone and the bell tower of the Cathedral of San Giusto.

The interior, with a single nave, is closed with a beautiful wooden altar surmounted by an elliptical dome partly decorated with stucco and partly painted in the Baroque style with a trompe l’oeil effect.

Following the recovery through detachment of a fresco depicting a Crucifixion, fragments of a macabre painting have appeared on the external wall of the church, on the north side, identified with a meeting of the three living and the three dead: the image is traditionally connected to one of the Marian devotions to the Madonna del Ponte, invoked for the healing of epilepsy.

The five-story bell tower ends with a balustraded bell tower and a beautiful onion dome.

Over the centuries, the church has undergone numerous modifications and renovations, and the creation of the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, lower than the central nave, dates back to the 19th century.

During the works for its adaptation as a museum, a section of an ancient buried road was uncovered, now left exposed by a structural glass path, some construction joints on the south wall of the Church, which document the succession of subsequent enlargements, and the traces of the ancient apse at the bottom level, which oriented the Church to the east.

The museum

The Museum, spread across 6 rooms and additional spaces covering an area of 900 square meters, houses the treasure of the Cathedral of San Giusto, the Choir with reliquaries and the art collection, the Sacristy with liturgical vestments and textiles, and the Rocciamelone Triptych (or Rotarius Triptych), made of gilded bronze, engraved with a burin, dating back to the 14th century.

The Triptych consists of three parts terminating in a pinnacle, joined by four hinges. The larger central part is connected to two smaller trapezoidal parts that can be folded for transport.

On the central panel, the Madonna is depicted seated on a chest with the small Jesus in her arms, with one hand holding the world and the other caressing the mother’s chin. On the left wing, there is Saint George on horseback, piercing the dragon with his lance, while on the right wing, a bearded saint is prominent, identifiable as Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of the Knights of Malta, whose hands are placed on the shoulders of a kneeling warrior representing the patron of the triptych, Boniface Rotarius. All the figures are surmounted by slender Gothic arches and enclosed within ornamental motifs that occupy the entire background.

At the bottom of the triptych, a Latin inscription in Gothic characters is engraved, allowing its dating:

“Qui mi ha portato Bonifacio Rotario, cittadino di Asti, in onore del Signore Nostro Gesù Cristo e della Beata Maria Vergine, nell’anno del Signore 1358, il giorno 1° di settembre”.

The triptych, coveted by Duke Carlo Emanuele II, was stolen in 1673 by Giacomo Gagnor di Novaretto and taken to the Rivoli Castle, where the royals spent the summer. It was displayed in the church of the Capuchin Fathers and honored with a solemn pilgrimage from Rivoli to Susa, which was attended by a huge crowd of faithful. Its final location was the Cathedral of San Giusto in Susa, and from there it was later transferred to the Diocesan Museum headquarters.

Abbey of Madonna Della Losa

The subalpine region is the theater of the first Carthusian irradiation in Italy: Pesio in the municipality of Chiusa Pesio in 1172, Casotto in the municipality of Garessio in 1173, and then, in 1189, Santa Maria alla Losa on the heights overlooking Gravere in the Susa Valley.

The history of the chapel, which stands in the heart of the small hamlet, on a splendid natural balcony along the road that leads to Pian del Frais from where the entire Susa basin can be seen, is linked to the presence of the Carthusians.

In this locality, thanks to a donation from Count Tommaso di Savoia, one of the first Carthusian monastic communities in Piedmont was established in 1189. The hamlet still preserves traces of the typical architecture of medieval charterhouses in some houses.

The transfer of the fertile pastures of the area to the monks led to immediate conflicts with the local population, and the relative proximity of the locality to Susa did not suit the need for isolation prescribed by the monastic rule.

According to Natalino Bartolomasi, a historian of the valley, the toponym Losa refers to megalithic characteristics: perhaps in that locality, in a very remote era, an imposing stone slab was erected to consecrate the site to worship a deity; it is likely that the Romans then built a temple there, which was later transformed into a Christian place of worship.

According to tradition, the Benedictines of Novalesa built a chapel dedicated to the Madonna in the 9th century, called Madonna della Losa, where they led a monastic life and resided for almost 156 years until they abandoned it due to Saracen invasions.

Verso il 1000 la montagna della Losa e la Cappella vennero incamerate nei feudi della Marchesa Adelaide, che la donò alla Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista di Torino.

Verso il 1189, un gruppo di certosini fuggiti dalla Francia a causa delle persecuzioni religiose, si stabilì alla Losa e vi fondò il proprio convento. Nel 1197 i certosini lamentano continui atti di disturbo da parte dei laici, riferendosi probabilmente agli abitanti di Susa e delle borgate limitrofe alla Losa.

I Certosini, tramite acquisti e donazioni, vogliono creare attorno alla loro domus una fascia di desertum in cui nessuno può entrare né acquisire terre. Interviene il Conte che impone il riconoscimento di diritti di chi può dimostrare un’usucapione trentennale, ma cassa tutti gli altri possessi, vietando nuove acquisizioni.

Questo non è sufficiente: le liti e le frequenti irruzioni con saccheggi portano nel 1202 i Certosini ad allontanarsi dalla Losa, trasferendosi in +Valle Orsiera, nella Certosa di monte Monte Benedetto di Villar Focchiardo e poi a *Banda.

Nel 1609 nacque la parrocchia di Gravere e la chiesa della Losa venne contesa tra graveresi e segusini.

Nel 1642 fu infeudata al conte Cauda di Caselette e al Marchese Ripa, che nel 1665 cedettero i diritti sulla Losa alla comunità di Gravere in cambio di un tributo annuo, pagato sino al 1833.

Nel 1690 gli abitanti di Gravere fecero voto di recarsi in processione alla Madonna della Losa il 26 luglio, giorno di Sant’Anna, per essere liberati dalla guerra che annientava il paese, già provato da una grave epidemia. La tradizione è ancora viva oggi, seppur su un percorso ridotto.


Of the original monastery, only the single-naved church remains, covered with a plastered barrel vault and partially frescoed, and the Romanesque bell tower.

The chapel can be dated to the mid-9th century, based on the type of masonry, bell tower, and plan, similar to the chapels of Novalesa. The roof is made of a wooden structure and natural split stone covering.

The frescoes from the second half of the 14th century depict the cycle of the apostles, which is usually painted in the apse but here is executed on the vault, taking advantage of its keel shape.

Due to water infiltration, some apostles were repainted, and a bishop saint and a Benedictine saint (perhaps Saint Basil and Saint Benedict) were added, probably in the second half of the 17th century.

The small Romanesque bell tower with exposed stone masonry reflects the typical architectural features of Romanesque bell towers.

Ancona of Madonna della Losa

From the ancient Certosa comes a rare and complex wooden altarpiece, a precious example of a canopy altar attributed to a sculptor from southern Germany in the first half of the 15th century, sought after by pilgrims and now preserved at the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art in Susa.

Two painted panels depict the Passion. On the left, the Last Supper, Foot Washing, and Arrest of Jesus; on the right, Jesus before Pilate, Crowning with Thorns, and Flagellation. In the central panel, there is a sculpture of the Sorrowful Virgin seated and surrounded by groups of small figures depicting different moments of the Passion, crucifixion, and deposition in the tomb. At the top, the crucifixion with two angels, the two thieves, Saint John, and Mary Magdalene. At the bottom, the Church collecting the blood spurting from Christ’s side, and on the other side, the Synagogue with blindfolded eyes and holding the ancient law, statues of Longinus, a praetorian, and two soldiers in armor from the early 1400s. Below the Virgin, Christ lies in the tomb, surrounded by two angels, with the three Marys in the background.

Church of Madonna dell’Ecova - Madonna della Quà

On the road that goes from Susa towards Rocciamelone, just above the village of Urbiano in the municipality of Mompantero, you will come across the 17th-century church of Madonna dell’Ecova, named after the small artificial caves carved into the moraine deposits that cover the slope (excavatum).

Near the church, close to the path, there is the Engraved Stone, a large slab measuring about 220 by 110 cm that features unique engravings: 3 spirals and an anthropomorphic image of Christ on the cross, 2 crosses and 2 letters, a date or number (18066), and 8 channels.

Both the two crosses and the letters and numbers, engraved with a hammer, appear deeper and more recent.

Spiral and labyrinth motifs are present in many European sites, dating back to various periods of prehistory. However, a connection between the spirals and Christ, with a unified interpretation, cannot be excluded.

Only under grazing light can eight almost faded channels be faintly discerned.

The stone has recently been the subject of surface archaeological excavations, coordinated by the Superintendent, at the end of which a complete cast was fortunately made in elastomer and polyester resin.

Subsequent acts of vandalism have erased the smaller spiral and damaged the Christ on the Cross.

Brunetta Fort

Fort of Santa Maria

Susa is located at the confluence of two important Alpine passes: the Moncenisio Pass (entry into Italy from Savoy and Northern France) and the Montgenevre Pass (connecting with Southern France through the Dauphiné region).

By the end of the 16th century, the old urban fortifications were no longer suitable to withstand a siege. For this reason, in 1590, a new fortified structure, the ancient Forte di Santa Maria, was erected south of the city on the Altura delle Combe. It was strategically positioned to dominate the town and control the road to Moncenisio.

The main facade consisted of two half-bastions, defended by a moat, with the main gate in between. The inner square, behind a second front, housed buildings for the fortress’s services: the government, warehouses, and quarters.

Forte della Brunetta
Forte della Brunetta

In the early years of the 18th century, after successfully defending against the French siege of Turin, the Savoyard state conquered and reannexed the high valleys of Susa and Chisone, which had been under French control for centuries.

After the reconquest, it became necessary to build fortifications to prevent a possible return of the French. Despite the successful trial of Forte di Santa Maria during Lesdiguières’ attack in 1593, its defensive capacity was severely limited by the dominance of the Brunetta hill.

Construction of Forte della Brunetta

It was decided to start construction of a new fort on the Brunetta hill between 1708 and 1709, during the ongoing War of the Spanish Succession. This new fort, Forte della Brunetta, would integrate the old 16th-century Forte di Santa Maria into its defensive system.

The location was carefully chosen, outside the range of any artillery and only accessible through a narrow passage protected by Forte di Santa Maria.

An imposing fortress, unparalleled in size and characteristics, was born. It would be considered impregnable for a long time and was directed by the main engineers of the Kingdom of Sardinia: Antonio Bertola, Luigi di Willencourt, Ignazio Bertola, Pinto di Barri, and Nicolis de Robilant.

The Brunetta hill was a rocky hill exposed by glacial erosion, overlooking the town of Susa from the north. The fort was a true military citadel, covering an area of over 300,000 square meters, with a church, barracks, and a hospital. Its bastions, carved directly into the living rock, were named San Pietro, San Lazzaro, San Maurizio, Sant’Antonio, and Santa Maria. The construction also included the old Forte di Santa Maria, which had been involved in numerous military events but was left in ruins.

The central body featured three main fronts facing west, defended by a countermining system, and the highest fort of Aquila, protected by two bastioned fronts facing east. The central body housed the Government Palace, the State Major’s Pavilion, the cisterns, ovens, the Church of Beato Amedeo, and the grand well. The garrison quarters were built at the eastern end of the complex.

It became a destination for distinguished visitors, including the Emperor of Austria, the King of Naples, and the Russian Tsar. They were all amazed by the grandeur of the construction. Emperor Joseph II of Austria, who visited the fortress in 1769, and Tsar Paul I of Russia, who stayed there in 1791, were sincerely astonished.

The fort never fired a single shot, possibly due to its strong deterrent role.

In 1747, the French army attempted to bypass the barriers of Brunetta in Susa and Fenestrelle by crossing the watershed between the Susa Valley and the Chisone Valley at the Colle dell’Assietta, where the eponymous battle took place.

During the Napoleonic campaigns, the French army instead passed through the Grand Saint Bernard Pass, attacking the Forte di Bard.

Destruction of Forte della Brunetta

In 1796, after defeating the Kingdom of Sardinia, Napoleon imposed the destruction of all fortifications in the kingdom, including Forte della Brunetta, through the armistice of Cherasco on April 28, 1796, which ended the Franco-Piedmontese War.

In 1796, the French occupied the fortress and evacuated the Piedmontese garrisons stationed there.

The destruction of the fortresses was imposed on the exchequer of the House of Savoy. Initially, the demolition of the Roman walls, towers, and the castle of Marchesa Adelaide was considered for Susa but later abandoned in favor of the destruction of Forte di S. Maria. At one point, the French even considered demolishing the entire city, but fortunately, the idea was abandoned.

A lengthy correspondence with the government of Turin ensued in an attempt to prevent the destruction of the fort, at least the civilian buildings.

The Sardinian government fought to save what could be saved, but it was in vain. At the end of the War of the Alps, after about a century of continuous strengthening works, the clauses of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1796 marked the end of Brunetta, which was demolished using explosives.

During the restoration, the decision was made to rebuild the destroyed forts, such as Forte di Exilles, but not those in Susa, as they had become obsolete due to the modern warfare techniques introduced by Napoleon.

Forte della Brunetta Today

Today, only traces of the walls and the impressive rock excavations remain, which could not be erased by dismantlement. The site is privately owned and preserves the remains of the church, the Governor’s house, as well as some walls and military structures.

The Medieval Village of Traduerivi (13th century)

Located about 4 km southeast of Susa, outside the city walls, accessible from the Strada Statale 24 del Monginevro, is the medieval village of Traduerivi.

The origin of the village’s name is controversial. Some argue that it derives from the geographical position of the hamlet, delimited by two streams: Rio Corrano and Rio Scaglione. The toponym is also attested in some documents of the Abbey of Novalesa, where it is referred to as “Intra duos Rivos.”

Others believe that it originates from an erroneous translation of the word in the local dialect, “Tourdurì” (in Italian, “Torre del Rio”). The presence of both towers and streams makes both etymologies plausible.

During the Middle Ages, the fraction was a fiefdom of the Ancisa and De Bartolomei families, who built two castles on the territory. The casaforte of the Giusti locality was initially owned by the eponymous family and later by the Francobello family from Avigliana.

Historical buildings can be found within the localities of “Borgo Vecchio di Traduerivi,” “I Giusti,” and “Il Colombé (Colombera).” In particular, in the Colombera hamlet, there are remains of an ancient palace with a battlemented tower, the residence of the aforementioned families.

Ricetto di Traduerivi

The Ricetto di Traduerivi, built by the Bartolomei and De Rubeis families, features an entrance to the northwest and another to the southeast, as well as several courtyards with interesting buildings. One of them bears the date “1714” and the coat of arms of the Bartolomei family.

The Ricetto di Traduerivi served as a place of refuge and defense during times of conflict and had walls, towers, and defensive structures. It is now privately owned and has been partially restored.

Casaforte dei Giusti

The Casaforte di Traduerivi, belonging to the Giusti family and later to the Francobello family, is a small rural village that includes a warehouse for agricultural tools, houses, stables and barns, and a cellar.

Monumento Sacro Cuore di Gesù

In 1945, after the end of World War II, the Catholic community in Valsusa decided to celebrate the liberation by erecting a monument to commemorate the fallen from Valsusa. The most suitable location was found at the summit of Mount Fasolino in the municipality of Meana di Susa, offering a panoramic view of the Susa Valley from Ambin to Monte Musinè.

The monument consists of a truncated pyramidal base, on which nine granite columns are grouped in three bundles, with a central column supporting the statue. Resting on the columns is a circular platform that serves as the base for the statue. Along the edge, a capital Roman inscription in bronze letters reads: “Venite ad me omnes A. D. MCMXLVIII” (Come to me, all A.D. 1948).

The casting process used approximately eleven quintals of material provided by the Ministry of Defense, coal from the State Railways, and wax from the parish priests of the diocese. The solemn inauguration took place on June 6, 1948.

Pietra Maria

Starting from the historic center of Susa, following the Via Francigena towards Gravere, behind the hamlet of Morelli in Gravere, one can admire the erratic rock called Pietra Maria.

Meana di Susa

Like Susa, Meana, the ancient Mediana, was inhabited during Roman times as part of the castellania of Susa. Meana also boasts some remarkable historical landmarks.

The Torre delle Combe, a square tower of medieval origin with the appearance of a military fortification, probably never had defensive functions but was likely one of the many signaling towers used to communicate news throughout the valley, all the way to Turin, by lighting bonfires. Its ruins remain amidst the vegetation.

The Cappella di San Costanzo was a pagan temple modified over the centuries and now has the appearance of a rural chapel, with a two-sloped roof and a Baroque bell tower. Inside the chapel, two Roman funerary epitaphs are preserved. At the foot of the hill on which it stands, a tomb was discovered.

Within the settlement of Sarette, there is a building, perhaps the ancient Chiesa delle Sarette (Church of Sarette), where a carved stone bifora opens at the center of what was likely the apse.

In the Travot area, mostly reconstructed in the 18th century, stands the ancient Parrocchiale di Santa Maria Assunta (Parish Church of the Assumption of Mary), dating back to the 11th century. The current Baroque church preserves part of the Romanesque bell tower.

How to Get There

The best way to visit Susa is on foot, strolling through its neighborhoods, discovering the scattered historical artifacts.

You can arrive by car or by train. For those coming by car, a convenient and free parking option is in Piazza Conte Oddone. For those arriving by train, Susa is connected to Torino by a railway station. Getting off at the Susa station, you will find yourself just a short walk from the historic center.

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Alessandro Gemscovery Travel Blog
Alessandro Lussi
Computer scientist, electrical engineer, mechanic and jurist, traveling on the road since birth.
Passionate about off-grid life and self-production, I write for passion.