Staffarda Abbey, Italy: travel guide, history and visitor information

Photo of Staffarda Abbey (Piedmont region)

Visit Staffarda Abbey

Tthe Abbey of Staffarda is a cistercian monastery and one of the most complete medieval monastic complexes to be found in Italy. It is in an attractive position with the Alps providing a dramatic backdrop.

A brief history of Staffarda Abbey

The abbey at Staffarda was founded in 1135 by the Marquis of Saluzzo, Manfred I. The land on which the abbey was built was originally reclaimed by the Cistercian monks, who then built a complex of buildings that included the abbey church, cloister, and the covered market. These are mostly still intact although they have often been modified in later centuries.

Until the 15th century Staffarda was a very important regional center for the cistercian monks, with a gradual decline from that date onwards. This decline was furthered by damage to the abbey in 1690 during the Battle of Staffarda as part of the war between France and the Dukes of Savoy.

interior of Staffarda Abbey church

Staffarda Abbey visitor information

As a result of modifications over the centuries you can now see both roman and gothic style architectural elements at the abbey as well as an important historical art collection. Much of the complex is built in red brick and red sandstone.

The appearance is rather austere although there are alternating red and gray colours decorating the vaults and pillars which brightens the interior, as do the decorative capital stones. Note also the gothic period pulpit inside the church.

The altar is surmounted by a 16th century altarpiece by Pascale Oddone. The central structure contains scenes from the life of the Virgin, while on the inside of the two doors are painted the Resurrection, the Ascension of Christ, the descent of the Holy Spirit and the Coronation of Mary.

On the outside of the triptych the portraits show Saints Benedict and Bernard of Clairvaux, the archangel Gabriel and the Virgin.

Other art works of interest in the abbey complex include some rather faint frescoes in the refectory, a 16th century woodcarving of the crucifixion and a renaissance period candelabra.

The tower at Staffarda Abbey, built in 1250, is in Gothic style and surmounted by a spire of brick.

The square cloister, located on the southern side of the abbey church, is characterized by its dark red colour, marked by white marble columns and a garden containing decorative box hedging. Other buildings to be seen here include the chapter house, refectory, and the monk's laboratory.

Note: the abbey is closed to visitors every Monday.

Where is Staffarda Abbey?

The abbey complex at Staffarda is not far from Saluzzo in the Piedmont region of north-west Italy, and about 50 kilometres south-west of Turin.

See also:

Map of Staffarda Abbey and places to visit

Staffarda Abbey places to visit

See more places nearby in the Piedmont guide