The Parish church of Santo Stefano, founded on the splendid hill of Marinasco, dates back to 950 and was conceived as a hospitable place along an ancient path and indicated a sign of help to the traveler in search of food and shelter. The site is located along an ancient Roman route that connected the Magra Valley to the Vara Valley, then continuing towards Gaul, today’s known as France.
The square of Marinasco, paved with sandstone slabs and equipped with antique benches and street lamps, is one of the most evocative viewpoints, open to the town of La Spezia and its splendid Gulf of Poets. The parish is one of the five oldest that overlooks the Gulf: Ameglia, Trebbiano, Baccano of Arcola, San Venerio and Marinasco. They were ancient territorial units of pre-Roman Ligurian origin called “pagus”, later replaced in the Christian era by parish churches.
The whole north-central and western part of the Gulf of Poets was part of the parish of Marinasco, whose fortified village was located in the ancient castle of Vesigna, in the current Forte Castellazzo; the outlet to the sea of Marinasco was the inlet of San Vito of Marola, an ancient settlement evidenced by the archaeological findings that emerged during the nineteenth-century excavations for the construction of the basins of the Military Arsenal.
Of particular architectural importance on the church building is the external lateral portal on the west side, with an arch carved in local sandstone, embellished in 1984 by a bronze bas-relief representing the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, the work of the sculptor Pietro Ravecca. To the right of the portal there is a capital of the oldest church, excavated with the function of a holy water stoup. Inside, the splendid baptismal font dates back to 1436, as the rite of baptism, at that time, was exclusively reserved to parish churches. The ceiling is decorated with frescoes from 1875, while the organ was built in 1822 by the Mentasti brothers.
Currently, works of restoration and consolidation of the church structures have been proceeding for years, considering the precarious state of geological stability of the hill on which it was built, but further funding from the institutions will be required to carry out the total recovery of this historic building, so fundamental for the millenary history of our territory.
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