Abbazia dei Santi Nazario e Celso

The Abbey of San Nazzaro Sesia is one of the most glorious abbeys in the Novara area and is one of the major examples of Romanesque art in northern Italy. It belongs to the province of Novara and ecclesiastically to the diocese of Vercelli. It was founded in 1040 by the Bishop of Novara Riprando together with his brothers the Counts of Biandrate.

All that remains of the ancient Romanesque building is the two-storey atrium with an incorporated narthex and the bell tower. The latter is a massive construction with a square plan, the masonry is made of river pebbles arranged in a herringbone pattern, interspersed with horizontally placed bricks, the six mirrors are punctuated by a series of hanging arches. The church built in the 15th century is an example of Lombard-Gothic architecture. The gabled façade with ogival portal and central rose window is richly decorated with fictile cornices.

The interior has three naves with ribbed cross vaults. 15th-century frescoes can be admired on the side walls. The quadrangular, 15th-century cloister has large cross-vaulted arcades with rich terracotta friezes; of great interest is the cycle of 15th-century frescoes decorating some of the cloister walls and illustrating episodes from the life of St Benedict.

The abbey was once surrounded by moats and walls of which some sections and three of the four corner towers remain. A recent renovation has made it possible to obtain, in the evocative atmosphere of the upper cloister, a comfortable guesthouse for those who wish to spend a few hours or a few days of tranquillity and recollection.


Address: Via Antonio Barbavara, 5 – 28060 San Nazzaro Sesia NO
Tel:  +39 0321 834073+39 349 382 4940