Who could imagine that in some villages of the outskirts of Turin, inside small churches that go unnoticed by their exterior construction, are some of the most valuable known frescoes of Piedmont?
The Romanesque architecture in Canavese (a historical-geographical region of Piedmont extended between the Serra di Ivrea, the Po, the Stura di Lanzo and the Graie Alps, between Turin and Valle d’Aosta) is mainly represented by the oldest vestiges of important religious buildings, as well as a large repertoire of small churches that arise in isolated countryside locations that characterize the Canavese landscape. In this opportunity we will talk about two of them: the Plebeian Church of San Maurizio and the Church of San Ferreolo of Grosso. Their interior houses a large and evocative series of frescoes.
The Plebeian Church of San Maurizio externally appears as a building of Romanesque forms, despite the many adaptations of the centuries. The building, which was founded in the 11th century, was already rebuilt in the 12th using various Romanesque recovery material, preserving only the apse and the bell tower in its original forms. Undoubtedly and significant is the rich pictoric cycle of frescoes of the 15th century (Cycle of the Serra) with the 24 episodes from the Gospel illustrating the life of Christ, from the Annunciation to the Crucifixion. Other painters of the 16th century illustrate the martyrdom of Saint Margaret, Saint Catherine and Saint Lucia.
Just off the provincial road stands the Romanesque church of San Ferreolo, in the town of Grosso. Hopelessly in the middle of the fields comes from the outside as a solid construction in opus spicatum, that is river cobblestones. The little church stands isolate with a exterior engraved by a frame of wall arches, while the apse has three narrow windows to illuminate the interior.
Forgotten in the serenity of the country you will discover one of the most beautiful cycles of frescoes in Medieval Piedmont. On the left wall the Allegory of vices and virtues of the 15th century. The figures evolve in 2 orders: at higher level crowned ladies and statues, with long robes and cilices, divided by a Gothic arch colonnade, represent the 7 Virtues. To the lower one seven more women and each one rides a beast along a pavement, with a typical attitude of the vice that symbolizes. All have a didactic purpose that indicates their quality. The fresco of this wall is completed by a Madonna del Latte or Nursing Madonna (dates on XV century) .
The other interesting piece of the church is the fresco of the apse, a Pantocrator Christ of Byzantine style (dating back to XI century), a rare example in Piedmont, surrounded by symbols of the Tetramorph.
Usually both churches are not open, but approaching to the Townhall you can get to visit them. It’s an unique experience to encounter art, religiosity and history… and of course, an unusual spot for pics.