Parish Church of Saint Anthony the Great
Coming down from Ameno and turning towards Vacciago, look upwards and to the left to find the elevated, isolated parish church of Saint Anthony the Great. The building stands tall outside of the populated city center, in a very scenic location: from the churchyard you can enjoy an enchanting view of Lake Orta and Monte Rosa.
The first documented knowledge of the church is its mention in a 1217 document, but is certainly much older. Over the course of the sixteenth century, it was renovated and expanded (1589) following its formal achievement of independence from its mother church on the Island of Saint Julius at the end of the previous century. It wasn’t until 1565 that a baptismal font was placed in the church, and it wasn’t officially sanctioned by the bishop Carlo Bascapè from Novara until 1599.
The structure you see today is a work of art by the master Silvestro di Lugano, created in the late sixteenth century. The beautiful bell tower to the left side of the church, however, is from the Romanesque era and has had a few touchups, including the addition of a lantern at its peak. The façade was decorated in Baroque plaster, most likely by workers from Lombard, and enhanced with an elegant porch held up up by two granite columns with Doric capitals. The former Oratory of Saints Michael and Gaudentius, constructed in 1698, sits in the center body of the church.
The inside of the church consists of a single room. To the left you can find the entrance to the bell tower, the baptistery compartment, and the Saint Charles Shrine, while to the right you can see the Saint Anthony Shrine and the beautiful Rosary Shrine.
A grand choir area with vaulted ceilings, frescoed in 1691 by Giorgio Bonola (a painter originally from Corconio, a small village quite near to here), opens off of the side of the presbytery. This work depicts the Glory of Saint Anthony the Great. Another fresco in the choir area by Agostino Comerio depicticts the Religion. A series of paintings recounting the life of Saint Anthony the Great and other saints also hang here.
The Our Lady of the Rosary shring is very refined and elegant, frescoed in the mid-eighteenth century by the talented painter Giovan Battista Cantaluppi from Miasino, who included the 15 Marian mysteries within large painted folders arranged along the three walls of the chapel.
Leaving the chapel you will note a Baroque ossuary next to the entryway arch of the parvis, frescoed in 1763 by Luca Rossetti from Orta. The ancient cemetery once occupied the area surrounding the church, most likely where the apse is now located; a door allowed for direct passage from inside the church to the churchyard. The cemetery you see a few meters from the parvis today dates back to the eighteenth century.
Open during the summer months.