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Basilica of San Salvatore dei Fieschi

  • Piazza Innocenzo IV, 20, 16040 Cogorno GE, Italia
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On the hill of San Salvatore di Cogorno in the hinterland of Lavagna, along the Entella torrent, stands the basilica of the Fieschi family, one of the most important medieval monuments in eastern Liguria: the monumental complex inside the "Borgo Fliscano" was erected starting in 1245 at the behest of Pope Innocent IV (Sinibaldo Fieschi) during the bitter struggle that saw him opposed to Frederick II. The construction was completed in 1252, in Romanesque-Gothic style, by his nephew Ottobono Fieschi, who was to become Pope Adrian IV. An inscription on the portal architrave recalls the event. Important privileges were granted to the basilica, as it was directly subordinate to the Apostolic See. Several buildings were linked to the basilica, including the bridge and the hospital of the Maddalena. The church, made of grey limestone, has a salient façade decorated with black and white bands in the upper part and lightened by a large marble rose window, decorated with fretwork. The central part is characterised by the pointed arch splayed entrance portal with pseudo-protrusions and a lunette frescoed in the fifteenth century with Christ on the Cross between the Madonna, St. John, Sinibaldo and Ottobono Fieschi. The black and white band decoration is repeated on the wall above the triumphal arch, in the central square and on the counter-façade. The interior has a floor plan with three naves marked by a double row of columns in black stone with spherical-cubic capitals on which the wooden roof is set, while the transept and the presbytery still have stone ceilings with ribbed vaults. Two medieval aedicules lead to the two side aisles, illuminated by a series of single-lancet windows. At the intersection of the nave and transept stands the imposing bell tower (or nolare tower): the bell tower has a double order of four-mullioned windows and is concluded by an octagonal spire flanked by four pyramidal pinnacles. Characteristic is the churchyard made of polychrome marine pebbles according to the typical Ligurian technique of "a rissoi" paving and decorated with circles and other geometric motifs. The basilica is flanked by the palace of the Fieschi family: the two monuments, together with the baroque oratory of San Salvatore il vecchio and the remains of some 16th century buildings, form an evocative setting that every year brings the village back to its ancient splendour during the historical commemorations of 13 and 14 August: "Addiu du fantin" and "Torta dei Fieschi". An interesting cultural itinerary starts from the basilica and embraces all the churches of the municipality.

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