San Michele

Useful Information

Location: San Vittorino, L'Aquila
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave. SubterraneaCatacombs SubterraneaSt. Michael Caves
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Ufficio I.A.T. dell'Aquila, Tel: +39-0862-410808.
Municipio dell'Aquila, Tel: +39-0862-6451.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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763 first written mention of the church.
24-JUL-1170 church consecrated.
1940 grave of San Vittorino renovated.
22-JUL-2004 catacombs closed to the public.


The church San Michele at San Vittorino is of Romanesque age with frescoes from the 13th century. Like many churches in southern Italy, it is dedicated to St. Michael Archangel, but unlike most others, it is not a cave church. This church is extraordinary as it has a natural cave below with many human alterations. The cave is entered through a staircase in the lower aisle. It is a series of passages and shafts, with several pillars and vaults.

The catacombs are said to contain the bodies of 80 early Christian martyrs. They also contain the grave of San Vittorino (Saint Victorinus), the first bishop of Amiternum who became a martyr under the reign of Emperor Nerva. His tomb in the first chamber of the catacombs was built in the 5th century by the bishop Quodvultdeus and renovated in 1940. The catacombs are of Roman age, which means almost 1,000 years older than the church above. At this time the Roman town Amiternum was located at the same place as today San Vittorino. On top of the hill was a citadel and below was the town, named after nearby Aternus river. This town was originally founded by the Sabines, neighbours of the Romans, and was conquered by the Romans in 293 BC.