The San Michele Church in Ventimiglia is situated in a secluded spot on a square overlooking the Val Roia. The main attraction in this church is the crypt, for which Roman elements have been reused.
San Michele Church Ventimiglia
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Piazza San Michele – Ventimiglia. Phone: +39 0184229507 or 0184351019. Admission is free. The church is only open on request.
History and description
The Romanesque church of San Michele was built around the 12th century, on the site of an already exiting chapel from the 8th century. It was to be the private chapel of the counts of Ventimiglia.
The apse, the bell tower and the central nave are results of a reconstruction toward the end of the 12th century.
After this construction it was given to the Benedictine Order.
After the 1564 earthquake the church needed to be reconstructed. Both the left (completely) and the right (partially) nave had been completely destroyed. Only the main apse and the three nave crypt escaped without damage. The restoration completely altered the layout, so the church only consists of one nave now. The facade was also moved back, so the church square is slightly larger than it was before.
The present facade is the result of a restoration towards the end of the 19th century.
For the crypt, which dates back to the time the Romanesque church was built, Roman architectural elements were reused. One of the columns supporting the cross vault is a milestone from Caracalla.
Two more milestones can be seen near the entrance of the church itself. The one of the left is being reused as a baptismal font. The inscription indicating it being 590 miles from Rome is still visible.
The primitive fresco on the right wall depicts “Saint Sebastian”.