Parish Church and Scurolo of the Blessed Panacea
How to get
By train: the railway station of Romagnano Sesia-Ghemme is 2km from the town.
The Parish Church of Ghemme, dedicated to the Assumption, was built over the ancient Pieve church at the end of the 17th – beginning of the 18th centuries. The church has a Latin cross plan, a great barrel vault, and an imposing dome over the transept.
The building is impressive, and has a single nave with four chapels on each side; it was entirely frescoed with trompe-l’oeil architecture by the Giovannini brothers of Varese. The very fine high altar, in polychrome marble and bronze, dates from 1763; a majestic painting of the Assumption of the Virgin (1745) hangs at the back of the choir. The eight side chapels contain some interesting artworks, such as frescoes and paintings by Perracino (1779-1782), statues by Ardia and Sella, a 15th century Christ and frescoes painted by Giulio da Milano in 1543.
The Baroque façade of the church dominates the main square of the town, which is named after its most famous citizen, the architect Alessandro Antonelli. He designed the beautiful scurolo for the Blessed Panacea, virgin and martyr, who was killed on the nearby hills of Quarona and who is still today the object of profound veneration by the people. The scurolo, a small, crypt-like chapel, was added to the right side of the parish church between 1864 and 1875 when funds for the purpose were willed by a citizen of Ghemme. The young martyr’s body is enclosed in a double urn: the inner one (17th century) is richly decorated in wrought silver, the outer one is in gilded wood and was made in the 19th century.
The church has a singular 17th century bell tower; the later ornamental spire that heightens the tower, oddly in Neo-Gothic style, was the work of the priest-architect don Ercole Marietti.