S.Pietro Basilica

The church is located in S. Pietro village, a short distance from Casalvecchio Siculo, in the province of Messina. The site is particularly evocative: lemon trees and Mediterranean scrub surround the church creating a wrap of peace and silence, a magic atmosphere.

The place is easily reachable. You need to dreive along the segment of Strada Provinciale 19 joining S.Teresa Riva and Casalvecchio Siculo and then follow the signs towards the basilica.


Basilica S. Pietro e Paolo - Casalvecchio Siculo

The original building was erected around 560 a.D. to be completerly destroyed by the Arabs during their conquest. The church was rebuilt in 1117 by the monk Gerasimo of San Pietro and Paolo, thanks to the economic support of the Norman King Roger II.

In 1169 a tremendous earthquake seriously damaged it, but in 1172 it was rebuilt by architect Gherardo il Franco, as witnessed by an inscription in Ancient Greek language visible on the entrance door. The church has remained untouched ever since, and it's now virtually intact.

S.Pietro's monks ruled a wide and rich territory devoted to farming, breeding of cattle, production of flour, wheat by-products, wine and olive-oil, and all the locals benefited of this richness, including the inhabitants of Casalvecchio Siculo. The church was used as a monastery until 1794. Then, the unhealthiness of the area - caused by the pollution of the near Agr├▓ river from waste of flax manufacture - forced the monks to move to Messina. Abside della Chiesa di San Pietro e Paolo - Casalvecchio Siculo After that, the basilica was deserted and served only as a store-room for farmers' tools.

During those centuries of complete neglect, the church was visited only by historians of medieval architecture both from Italy and abroad. Only after the '60' of last century the basilica has been restored and reopened to public worship and tourism. Several art critics and historians have written essays on it. Among them Stefano Bottari, Pietro Lojacono, E.H. Freshfield, Antonio Salinas, Ernest Basile and Edoardo Calandra.

Exterior and interior

As witnessed by the merlons on top and by the absence of windows, S. Pietro Basilica was a fortress-church, as most of the coeval Norman cathedrals in Sicily, for example in Cefal├╣ and Monreale.

Interni della Basilica S. Pietro e Paolo - Casalvecchio Siculo

As for those more popular churches, its style is a synthesis of Byzantine, Arab and Norman features. For example, the facade is adorned with narrow pilasters ending in polychrome crossing arches, as the Byzantine used in coeval buildings.ves plan and the presence of two towers and a porch on the main facade.

The interior is bare and reveals the simple beauty of the medieval structure.

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