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Col di Roanza and the Chapel of San Michele

Whoever has spent a period of his or her life in Belluno knows it well: one of the best panoramas of the Bellunese Valley is in the village of Col di Roanza, and if you can get there after a beautiful stroll through the town of Sopracroda, even better. But this place does not just give us this splendid view…

Col di Roanza is one of the most desired destinations of the Bellunese: home to many parties, theater for many foot races, a place for restoration thanks to its eponymous sanctuary and above all, the point of departure for reaching the peak of Mount Serva. The place, to be precise, rises from the slopes of this mountain: from here the panorama is decidedly enchanting, both towards the city of Belluno and in the direction of the group of the Schiara.

Going on from Col di Roanza the street becomes an even more challenging path until the peak of Mount Serva; But before arriving to Col di Roanza, what can we find?

After several hairpin turns from Sopracroda, on the right there is a gun emplacement, from which, still on the right, begins a with path that brings you to a basin that is certainly farmed. Here, on the slopes of the hill almost hanging on a hill above the Belluna Valley, rises the sixteenth-century Chapel of San Michele.

Chiesa San Michele

The chapel has basic linear features.
Its structure, as we see it now, is assumed to be that of the sixteenth century, with its characteristic portico for the shelter of travelers that leads to a simple square hall and the octagonal apse.
The early church was probably typical of a late ancient period, during the sixth century, along a path most likely built for military purposes in the Roman era, (if not before), still visible on the ground uphill from the chapel: a Piedmontese route from the bridge of the Alps, passing by way of San liberale crossing Col di Roanza, Vaus and the Pont of the Mortìs, reaching Bolzano Bellunese and then the entrance to the Cordevole Valley without needing to go down all the way to Belluno.

Inside the chapel, under the triumphant arcade, distinguished by two elegant lesenes crowned by capitals carved with vegetable and spiral motifs, one finds a wooden crucifix dating back to the 700s: made by a local artisan.

The altar has a small shovel painted in oil that illustrates a Jewish priest, probably Aronne, who holds up an incense burner and holder; his picture is surrounded by rose branches. This last decoration is probably a nineteeth-century revision, while the picture of the priest seems to be eighteenth century and attributable to the styles of Antonio Gabrielli.

Until just recently the Chapel of San Michele conserved a canvas with an illustration of the virgin and her holy child, with San Michele on the left and a martyr saint on the right. At their shoulders, a landscape of cold colors but with profiles well outlined, of evocative brightness, almost lunar. The piece, of particular value, for precautionary reasons, has been transferred to the Seminary of Belluno. In its place we can find a photographic reproduction.

Here is how to arrive by foot on the long street that leads to Col di Roanza:


Sources: Belluno, storia, architettura e arte a cura di Gigetto De Bortoli, and Archivio Storico di Belluno

Photograph of the chapel from