The ruins and Tower of beautiful Alda
The north-west side of the mountain is occupied by impressive ruins of pillars, walls, arches and barbicans for a length of about 50 m. These are the so-called Ruins of the New Monastery, built between the twelfth and fourteenth century during the era of maximum expansion of the monastic community. The imposing 5-storey building, to which was added a new construction towards the north, ending in the so-called Tower of the Beautiful Alda, fell into disrepair due to earthquakes, wars and neglect. The whole area of these ruins has been the subject of works of restoration, conservation and improved accessibility through the years 1999-2002.
A cottage built in the late 1800s can be seen among the ruins of the New Monastery: it was used by the Army Corps of Engineers as a station for an optical telegraph. This system, using Morse code, in flashes of light, allowed the transmission of messages between Turin and the military forts of the Triple Alliance.
THE TOWER OF BEAUTIFUL ALDA
The perimeter wall of the ruins ends with a tower overhanging the precipice of the mountain: it is the so-called Tower of the Beautiful Alda, which takes its name from the following legend.
It is said that Alda, a peasant girl came to the Sacra to pray against the evils of war; unfortunately, she had the misfortune of being ambushed by enemy soldiers. She tried to escape their assault but, since she found herself trapped at the top of the tower, she threw herself into the ravine whilst invoking the help of St. Michael and the Virgin. She survived, landing unhurt at the bottom of the precipice.
Unfortunately, she misused this heavenly favour. Out of vanity and for monetary gain, she imagined herself able to do a second jump and she offered to repeat her flight for the umbelieving villagers, but she then leapt to a horrible death at the scene of her previous miraculous deliverance.
The historian Gallizia is the first who speaks of the legend in 1699 and it seems that the event had happened in recent history, as he writes: “That is what old people told us, since they lived at the time in which this happened.”