The Ossario di San Martino is a small chapel that houses over 1,200 skulls and over 2,000 bones that belonged to fallen soldiers who fought in a key 19th-century European conflict.
The battle of San Martino was waged in 1859 and was a significant moment in the Second Italian War of Independence. The kingdoms of Piedmont and Sardinia, which came together with the help of the French army, waged war to resist the occupying Austrian forces. It was one of the bloodiest conflicts fought by northern Italians.
Originally built as a chapel, the Ossario di San Martino was later converted into an ossuary, which was opened in 1870. Thousands of bones and skulls from soldiers from both sides, exhumed from the mass graves in which they were buried, rest in a display behind the altar. The exterior walls contain plaques commemorating the fighters from different cities and regions who took part in the war.
The Ossario is tucked away in a quiet spot in an area not often frequented by many tourists, so there is a good chance you will have it all to yourself. Feel free to explore down the steps on either side of the front alter of the ossuary . There are two small rooms ( often missed by visitors ) secured by bars that were arranged to be seen. There is a beautiful park next to the chapel that is ideal for picnics, and the Torre di San Martino is just at the end of the road. Adults can climb to the top for a beautiful view for €5 per person.