Abbazia di San Michele
Abbazia di San Michele Review
Within Terra Murata is the Abbazia di San Michele. San Michele (St. Michael) is the island's patron saint and a key figure in its history and traditions. Legend has it that in 1535, when the sultan of Algeria's admiral laid siege to the island, San Michele appeared above the pirate force and put them to flight (the 17th-century painting depicting the scene is in the choir of the abbey's 17th-century church; one of the invaders' anchors can also be viewed). On the wall close to the richly coffered ceiling of the church is another depiction of San Michele, attributed to the grandmaster Luca Giordano (1699). As you walk around the church, note the holes in marble flagstones on the floor, which were in effect trapdoors through which bodies could be lowered to the underground crypt below. Children will be fascinated by the skulls still lurking in the maze of catacombs leading to a secret chapel. The cultural association Millennium offers guided tours for a small fee.