Cantina dei Santi (Cellar of the Saints)
How to get
By train: the nearest railway station is Romagnano Sesia-Ghemme, 3km from the centre.
The so-called Cantina dei Santi (Cellar of the Saints) in Romagnano Sesia is all that remains of the ancient Benedictine Abbey of San Silvano (1008), and is one of the major places of historical interest in the Novara hill area.
The Cantina dei Santi is a cellar-like construction half-sunk into the ground, surrounded and overtopped by other buildings. It lies in the ancient district of Badia in Romagnano Sesia, and is reached through a little lane connected to the IV Novembre Park.
The original 11th century walls are built of stones arranged in a horizontal herringbone pattern, and open onto a spacious atrium with a double portico which leads into two rooms redolent of history: the room towards the back contains an extremely interesting collection of very early archaeological finds, while all the walls of the first room on the right are covered with a priceless cycle of 15th century frescoes. These are among the most important artworks of the whole province of Novara, and depict Biblical scenes, in particular episodes from the life of King David.
There is also an interesting coat of arms on the inside of the entrance wall of the frescoed room, above the door. Despite the fact that nothing is known of the original purpose of the building, the Cantina dei Santi remains place of exceptional interest for historians and art lovers. It is also used as a highly atmospheric setting for sampling the fine local wines on important occasions.