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Basilica di San Nicolò


Tra storia e leggenda


The construction of the parish church was decided by vote by the community of Pietrese following the miracle of liberation from the plague, carried out, according to popular legend, by San Nicola di Bari on July 8, 1525. According to tradition, on that distant day, the people of Pietresi , displaced in a place still called “Baracchini”, terrified by the virulence of the epidemic, they heard the bells of the parish church of the time ringing and, going down to the valley, they saw an old bishop on the bell tower ringing the bells and who disappeared upon their arrival: from that moment the plague ceased. As proof of the miracle handed down, the imprint of a hand is still visible on one of the bells of the old mother church, and is called the “hand of San Nicolò”. The people of Pietresi, struck by the fact, made a solemn vow to erect a large church and to dedicate it to the saint of Bari.


A single and majestic vault 27.25 meters long and 23.50 meters wide with interiors decorated by order of the holy parish priest Don Giovanni Bado who called the best artists of the time to fresco the vaults and walls, sculpt the statues, decorate with stucco the altars. The masterpieces of Maragliano, Piola and Barbagelata can still be admired today. All the inhabitants of the village gave their contribution, including work, while part of the works were collected from other churches in the town which were demolished. The wooden choir and the pulpit come from the Marseille Cathedral, saved from the looting of the revolutionary uprisings.

Culture Experience

Pietra Ligure between nature and culture

Guided tour to discover the Basilica of San Nicolò


Everything in the Basilica is a “miracle”, from its origin, to its beauty, to the deep bond of faith that binds it to the city. Since its sacrato, made of mosaic sea stones and the Baroque-Renaissance façade, the Basilica, the result of the Pietresi’s devotion to the Saint who miraculously freed them from the plague, promises to be a treasure chest of faith and art that you never stop discovering. Every corner of the monumental work of architects Giovan Battista Montaldo and Gaetano Canton is a continuous revelation. The cultural tour will guide you to discover the treasures that are found inside in the grandeur of the single Roman-style nave, in the immense pavilion vault and in the walls and chapels covered with decorations, sculptures, medallions and paintings, both figurative and decorative. they were made “in fresco” and not “in tempera” so the colors remain indelible to this day. Among the figurative frescoes, the work of the Genoese painter Luigi Sacco, one in particular amazes, the medallion of the vault, known as “the paradise”, which in its 190 square meters contains alone 33 characters. Among the marvelous works that you can admire in the sacristy, the two paintings by Luca Cambiaso and other paintings of the seventeenth-century Genoese school, with the two historical Pietresi paintings: the liberation from the plague (1525) and the victory of Genoa and Pietra against the Savoy and Loanesi (1625).


Guided tour of the ancient parish church

The tolling of the historic bells in the bell tower of the ancient parish church dedicated to San Nicolò, now affectionately called the “old church” have echoed during the holidays for centuries.
Among them, one has a symbolic meaning for the people of Pietresi: the “Miracle Bell”, the largest bell on which the imprint of a hand is clearly visible, which according to tradition is that of San Nicolò, the patron saint of the town.
The guided tour will take you to discover this ancient sacred building that is so important to the city.
Built in 885, rebuilt and enlarged in 1384 in Romanesque style, in 1791 the church was abandoned with the opening of the new parish church, the current basilica of San Nicolò and in 1796, it was granted by the “Pietrese parliament” to the Confraternity of Disciplinants.
From that date the church is also known as the oratory of the Concezione or “dei Bianchi”.
In 2007 the bell supports were in precarious conditions and it was dangerous to make them ring. A group of volunteers made her feel insecure so that theirs echoed again as a sign of pride and festive devotion.
Even today, the citizens of Pietresi are very devoted to their patron saint and, as recommended in an ancient plaque walled into the pillar of the church, the great feast of the Miracle is celebrated every year in his honor.