Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata del Vastato

Basilica in Genova

Basilica Of The Santissima Annunziata Del Vastato
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Zairon

The basilica of the Santissima Annunziata del Vastato in Genoa is widely acclaimed as the city’s most beautiful church, renowned for its opulent gilded interiors that have garnered praise even from notable figures like Montesquieu and Charles Dickens. Dickens likened the lavish use of gold within the church to that of a finely enameled snuffbox, emphasizing the awe-inspiring effect it has on visitors, especially when illuminated by the sun’s rays.

Exploring the basilica, visitors are treated to a harmonious interplay between delicate gilding and seventeenth-century frescoes by artists like Giovanni and Giovan Battista Carlone, and Gioacchino Assereto. The interplay of light across the spacious naves dances with the polychrome marble inlays by Domenico Scorticone and Giacomo Porta.

The church houses a treasure trove of significant works from the Genoese school spanning late mannerism, Baroque, and the eighteenth century. A notable feature is the monumental Last Supper by Procaccini, displayed above the portal and recently restored to its original splendor. The dome features an intricate perspective illusion created by Andrea Ansaldo, showcasing trompe-l’œil frescoes and gold figurines that epitomize the splendor and theatricality of early seventeenth-century Genoese painting.

Throughout the naves and altars, a stunning array of paintings by extraordinary Genoese and non-Genoese artists await discovery. This includes masterpieces by Luca Cambiaso, Guercino, Bernardo Strozzi, Giulio Benso, Giovanni Battista Paggi, Domenico Piola, Gregorio De Ferrari, Andrea Semino, Giovanni Andrea De Ferrari, Pietro Paolo Raggi, Luciano Borzone, Aurelio Lomi, Giovan Battista Vicino, Nicolò Carlone, Domenico Fiasella, Vittorio Gatto, Octave Pellè, Bernardo Carbone, Sebastiano Galeotti, Anton Maria Piola, Calvi, Giovanni Andrea Carlone, Tommaso Clerici, and Simone Barabino.

The history of the basilica dates back to a time when the name “Vastato” referred to open areas outside the city walls where crossbowmen practiced, devoid of trees or shelter. The Humiliated Friars selected this expanse to establish their convent and the church of Santa Marta del Prato, motivated by the presence of rivers that facilitated wool work.

Over time, various branches of the Franciscan community succeeded each other in the Vastato complex. The church underwent reconstructions and expansions, ultimately adopting the name Santissima Annunziata del Vastato. The Council of Trent prompted extensive renovations, leading to the sale of the main chapel’s patronage to the Lomellini family. This marked the church’s evolution into a noble parish with Baroque features under the guidance of architects like Taddeo Carlone, Giovanni Domenico Casella (Scorticone), and Giacomo Porta.

The neoclassical facade, adorned with two bell towers and an imposing pronaos with six Ionic columns, was constructed in 1867 under the design of Carlo Barabino and later refined by Giovanni Battista Resasco. Although the church suffered damage during World War II, its enduring structural strength and the revelation of medieval columns amidst the debris serve as a testament to its resilience.

The Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata del Vastato appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Genova!

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Visiting Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata del Vastato

Address: Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, Piazza della Nunziata, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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