Chiomonte

An important wine centre of the upper Susa Valley, Chiomonte has recently become a winter sport attraction with ski slopes opening at Pian del Frais. The first records of the Jerusalem Hospital of Chiomonte date back to the end of the XII century. It is situated at its original site, behind the town hall and you can immediately recognize the baroque style of the so called episcopal palace. In about 1750, the Bishop of Pinerolo, Jean - Baptiste di Orlier-de-St- Innocent, established here, on the old mansion of Jerusalem, established his residential summer villa here almost eliminating completely the older Roman structure. Only the Chapel

of Saint Catherine and a neglected church dedicated to San Giovanni: a tiny Romanesque church the only one of its kind in the Susa Valley, at the same time displaying architectural similarities with the coeval St John's church "in gradibus Karol" of Argentiére-the-Bessèe on the other side of the Alps. We should not marvel at this eccentricity, because the builders from Chiomonte spread all around the Susa Valley an architectural language characteristic of Provençal churches. The church displays a splendid lobed doorway refined by two thin capitals in local stone. The whole building structure, with the carving of finely squared stone fragments exhibits a high level of qaulity that is not normall to be found in local churches. The  suspended s mall  arches  are c haracterized  by  anthropomorphic and

zoomorphic heads and testify the exceptionally high level of the whole Jerusalem complex that includes a residential area for the Hospitalers, a cloister, a section of the hospital, stores and an area for the storage of agricultural products, that the Knights of Jerusalem let to the highlanders. In 1240

the Knights of Jerusalem exchanged the lands of Chiomonte with the canons of Oulx, obtaining some wealthy properties in the diocese of Limonges. With the arrival of the canons, the church, formerly entitled San Giovanni, was dedicated to Santa Caterina, the hospital was eliminated and the whole complex was changed into a rectory. The visit to the ancient Jerusalem site is to be completed, within the very heart of Chiomonte, with a visit to the nearby parish church and to the seventeenth-century merchants' house of along the arcaded avenue of the ancient route to Provence.