Romagnano Sesia and its treasures
How to get
By train: the nearest station is Romagnano Sesia.
The town of Romagnano Sesia, whose origins date back to Roman times, conserves art treasures which are among the best preserved in the Novara hills.
One of its major historical visitor attractions is the Church of San Silvano, which has two white marble liturgical fittings dating from ancient times: a 5th century Paleochristian sarcophagus and a votive cippus from the 2nd - 3rd centuries.
The sarcophagus, now used as an altar, is decorated on the front with a frieze symbolising Christian martyrdom; on the back is a strip, the right of which is embossed and chiselled. Formerly buried under the church’s high altar, it was brought to the surface in 1770; it was discovered that it contained a wooded urn with the relics of the Roman martyr San Silvano, the patron saint of Romagnano Sesia.
The votive cippus (a small pillar), now used as a pulpit, is decorated on both sides with twisted columns and Corinthian capitals (much deteriorated); the upper part has a band of floral motifs. The back and front faces show two intriguing male figures, in relief: their long robes suggest they are two Roman magistrates, oddly depicted with eyes which are not parallel.
Other works conserved in the church are a superb painting of the Virgin and Child by Gian Giacomo de Alladio, called Macrino (1513), and two paintings by Bernardino Lanino of the second half of the 16th century: Ecce Homo and Pentecost.
Another historical building in Romagnano Sesia is the Torrione del Pretorio, the tower in the heart of the town; it was probably built in 1466 and was initially the residence of the Marquises of Romagnano, later of the Pretore or Podestà (the medieval town governor), from whom the tower takes its name. Constructed on a square plan, the tower was part of a fortified quadrilateral within which the town developed.
The fortress was also defended by some moats which were filled in at the start of the 19th century to make what are now Piazza Cavour and Via 1° Maggio.
A visit to the artistic heritage sites of Romagnano Sesia helps the visitor understand how the medieval courts developed in Novara and its hills.
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