Fodor's Expert Review Abbazia di San Michele
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 church's richly coffered ceiling is another depiction of San Michele, attributed to the Tuscan Luigi Garzi (1699). As you walk around the church, note that the floor's marble flagstones have holes, which were, in effect, trapdoors through which bodies could be lowered to the underground crypt. The maze of catacombs (closed indefinitely) lead to a secret chapel. Mass is held every Sunday at 9:30 am, and the cultural association Millennium offers free guided tours by request.