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LA CHIESA DI SAN PARAGORIO

TESTIMONIANZA DALL'ANTICO PASSATO

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Passeggiata Dantesca, la natura a due passi dal mare

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Chiesa San Paragorio, il Monumento simbolo di Noli

 

It has a Romanesque, 11th-century origin and is one of the most important historical buildings in north-western Italy. The church was renovated by the architect Alfredo De Andrade between 1889 and 1890 and later declared a national monument. The entrance is on the left side of the church and is surmounted by a 14th-century porch; the backgarden hosts two tombs dating back to the 3rd/4th centuries and some stone coffins. On the other side of tha garden, an ancient necropolis and the remains of a previous building were found during the archaeological excavations made in 1972. Inside, the church is divided into three aisles and a semi-circular apse, and is decorated with some 15th-century frescos; under the presbytery an awesome, still untouched crypt reveals itself. A piece of the original wooden ceiling, dated back to 1239, hangs on the back wall of the left aisle; in the same year, the church was chosen as the city cathedral. In front of the entrance, a 3rd-century Crucifix is displayed; nicknamed “The Holy Face”, this painted wooden statue has an Eastern origin. The pulpit, on the left side of the central aisle, was rebuilt in 1890, using some fragments from original, 8th-century predecessor. The aisle walls bear some 15th-century paintings, one of which, painted by the Genoese painter Teramo Piaggio, is considered one of the earliest portraits of San Paragorio riding a horse.

San Francesco's Church

Its original structure dates back to the 3rd/4th centuries, but it was enlarged in the 17th century. Inside the church there is a single aisle with side altars and several tombstones dating back to times between the 14th and the 17th centuries. A 15th-century wooden Crucifix and 15th/16th-century painting of a “Madonna and Baby Jesus” complete the artistic heritage of the church. The latter artworks are now kept in the Bishop's seminar in Savona. The bell tower has two remarkable bells, dating back to 1362 and 1753.

Noli's hillside...

On the hills surrounding the town, three churches were built at the end of the first millenium: San Lazzaro, Santa Margherita and San Michele. There is no known explanation to their location in the outskirts; the choice may have been due to the Saracen raids in the 10th century, when the inhabitants of all this area fled on the hills to find a safe shelter.

San Lazzaro's Church

It is a tiny, 10th-century chapel, located along the way to the top of Capo Noli. Its origins are still unclear; it probably corresponds to a church located in the same place and mentioned for the first time in a 1177 testament (but that one was dedicated to San Giuliano and belonged to Santo Stefano monastery in Genoa). The monks renovated it in the second half of the 12th century, in Romanesque style. In the first half of the 13th century, the church was probably taken over by the Knights of Jerusalem, who later became Knights of Malta: they dedicated it to San Lazzaro and built a leper hospital near it. This building played a crucial role in the earliest times of the Republic of Noli: with the development of trade, the sailors were increasingly suffering from infectious diseases and they had to be isolated to prevent contaminations from spreading. The last plagued patient was hosted here in 1587; in the following centuries, the site was completely abandoned.

 

Santa Margherita's Church

This 10th-century church was built on the rocks overlooking the sea, along a path which connects Noli to the territory of Finale, across the Promontory of Capo Noli. Thanks to a 3rd-century Roman cinerary urn (once embedded in a wall and now kept in the Town Hall Council Room), historians assume that the church was built on a previous pagan temple. The religious functions here ended in the late 16th century, probably due to the papal bull signed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1572, stating that San Pietro's Church, within the city walls, would become the cathedral and the main seat of the city's Christian worship. Until the first half of the 20th century, Santa Margherita's Church was the destination of a pilgrimage on Sant'Eugenio's day and on Easter Monday.

 

San Michele's Church

It was built by the monks of Lérins between the end of the 10th century and the beginning of the 11th. The original building had a single aisle with a barrel vault and a semi-circular apse; at the end of the 11th century, a second aisle was built. The church is easily visible both from the sea and the town, thanks to its small bell tower, rising above the trees. Close to the church stand the ruins of a small, same-age house, built by the monks as a lodging for the wayfarers.