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Church of San Giovanni Battista

Church of San Giovanni Battista


The Church of San Giovanni Battista in Bellagio was built in 1584 (partly in 1685) on the site of an earlier temple dedicated to Battista, dating back at least to the tenth century.

A magnificent baroque facade was built alongside a bell-tower with five bells; the interior, already built with three naves, was enriched with paintings, stuccoes and gilded.

The church consists of a single nave with four side chapels, two on each side, and a presbytery.

The first chapel on the right houses a seventeenth-century wooden statue of the Assumption of the Virgin and the relics of San Primo, whose simulacrum is inside a shrine with decorative elements in gilded bronze.

Continuing along the same side, there is the second chapel decorated with a fresco painted in the second half of the sixteenth century by an unknown author, depicting the Madonna enthroned with Child, san Giovannino and angels. A little further on, at the presbytery, you can see the statue of San Giovanni Battista, made in 1974 by Giovanni Tavani in Carrara marble.

The presbytery is characterized by the high altar decorated with an altarpiece in gilded wood with the Risen Christ and other statues, by the carver Giovanni Albiolo from Bellagio. On the walls two anonymous seventeenth-century canvases have recently been placed : San Giovannino on the right and the Decollazione del Battista on the left.

On the opposite side of the sculpture by Tavani, there is another older one: a 17th century marble Immacolata attributed to Ercole Ferrata from Pellio d’Intelvi; this artwork was donated to the church of San Giovanni by Countess Melzi d’Eryl at the end of the 19th century.

Proceeding along the left wall it is possible to observe the chapel which preserves inside an altarpiece on which Resurrected Christ and Saints are represented, artwork of 1530 attributed to Gaudenzio Ferrari, gift of the family Clutches. Next to it there are two other canvases by an unknown artist: the Virgin and Jesus crowned with thorns.

The other chapel on the left has a fine marble altar and a canvas with a Saint kneeling in front of the Crucifix.

Part of the counter-façade, on which the organ is placed, shows the Baptism of Christ frescoed.

The vault of the nave is decorated with paintings depicting four episodes from the Life of Giovanni Battista, the Transfiguration and the Evangelists.

Fonte: C. meroni, Antichi edifici religiosi del Triangolo Lariano, Varese, 2011

The church has medieval origins. Probably the original building dates back to the tenth century, but there is no trace of it.

The new church was built in several phases between the end of the sixteenth and the seventeenth century; a restoration and a further extension are documented towards the end of the eighteenth century, when it reached the size that it still maintains today.

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