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Canzo (Como, Italy): Basilica of Santo Stefano

Foto Basilica of Santo Stefano
Foto Basilica of Santo Stefano
Foto Basilica of Santo Stefano
Foto Basilica of Santo Stefano
Foto Basilica of Santo Stefano
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Places  of historical value  of artistic value around Milan (Italy): Basilica of Santo StefanoThe exact name of the church is Provostal Basilica of St. Stephen Protomartyr. Its origins are very ancient and already in the thirteenth century there was a chapel on the site. The current church, which took the place of a previous building built in the late medieval period from 1398, was built between 1728 and 1752. In 1569 it became a parish church.
The bell tower was added in 1819, in conjunction with the restauration of the facade. Initially there had to be two, arranged symmetrically, but for economic reasons the second was abandoned.
The pictorial decoration of the interior was completed only in 1925, when the painter Albertella created most of the frescoes on the vault of the nave and of the walls of the side altars.

Externally, the church is characterized by its exquisitely baroque two-tiered façade, which alternates concave and convex surfaces. The two orders, separated by a thick frame which is then repeated at the upper edge of the second order, are vertically marked by large pilasters.
In the lower order there are three entrances, a larger central one and two lateral ones. All three have a portal, the one of the central entrance richer, the ones of the side entrances simpler.
In the upper order there are, in the center, a rectangular window and, on the sides, two niches containing the statues of Saint Stephen (on the left) and of Blessed Mirus (on the right). Both the window and the niches are located within rich Baroque-style frames.
On the upper side, the façade ends with a curved Baroque pediment with a dedication in the center to God, to Saint Stephen and to the Blessed Mirus.
In fact, it is noted that the bell tower is not well in style with the rest, even if its small size masks the stylistic dissonance.
The interior has a single nave. The spatial structure of the interior, however, is made more elusive by the fact that the two side chapels on each side are very broad and are placed at the ends of the nave, with the area between them much greater than that which separates them from the entrance and the presbytery, thus almost suggesting the presence of two transepts. This effect is accentuated by the fact that the ceiling of the nave is lower than between the pairs of chapels, in which it rises to create almost real domes.
The side walls between the chapels are occupied at the base by large marble confessionals above which, behind polychrome marble balustrades, there are two organs.
The vault is decorated from the first span towards the presbytery with the frescoes: the Ordination of Saint Stephen, Jesus walks on the water and the Martyrdom of Saint Stephen.
The church has two side chapels on each side. All the chapels have the same structure: medium depth, barrel vault, polychrome marble balustrade dividing it from the nave, polychrome marble altar and altarpiece with gilded decorations and frescoed side walls. The marbles used are essentially red and black.
Starting from the entrance, on the left you have:
Chapel of St. Bernard: The statue of the saint, depicted in the act of crushing the devil, is by Elia Vincenzo Buzzi (1771). The pictorial decoration consists of two paintings: the Saints Rocco and Mirus and the Baptism of Christ.
Chapel of the Virgin of the Rosary, as evidenced by the statue of 1761, also the work of Elia Vincenzo Buzzi, present in the large niche in the center of the retable. The frescoes on the side walls represent the Holy Family (right) and the Martyrdom of Saint Agnes.
On the right we have instead:
Chapel of the Crucifix: Contains a sixteenth-century wooden crucifix. A detached fresco depicting the bust of a Saint was placed in the lower part of the altar. Two frescoes on the side walls complete the decoration of the chapel: Sant’Antonio Maria Zaccaria (right) and St. Francis of Assisi (left).
Chapel of St. Anthony Abbot: It houses the statue of St. Anthony Abbot, it too made by Elia Vincenzo Buzzi in 1767; the walls are decorated with frescoed panels: San Luigi Gonzaga receives his first communion from Carlo Borromeo and The Curate of Ars with Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus.
The presbytery is decorated with numerous frescoes: Supper at Emmaus and Elijah and the Angel on the walls, Glory of Saint Stephen on the vault, an eighteenth century fresco surrounded by sails with the four evangelists.
The apse, with a vault decorated with a fresco depicting the Trinity (also a fresco from the eighteenth century), has three seventeenth-century paintings on the walls depicting San Carlo Borromeo, Saint Peter and St. Paul. The lower part of the apse walls is occupied by the stalls of the wooden choir.
The main altar is in polychrome marble and is surmounted by a polygonal aedicule resting on eight red marble columns.
Worthy of note are the numerous gilded stucco decorations that embellish the interior of the church in many points and which are particularly rich at the top of the triumph arch.
The organ of the Basilica belongs to the renowned series that came out of the workshop of the Serassi brothers of Bergamo.
Also beautiful are the two polychrome marble pulpits in style with the altars of the church and placed on the sides of the entrance to the presbytery.

Categories: Places of historical value of artistic value

Via Chiesa, 38, 22035 Canzo CO
Further pictures of Basilica of Santo Stefano in the section Photography
Canzo (Como, Italy): Stucco decorations at the apex of the triumphal arch of the Basilica of Santo Stefano
Canzo (Como, Italy): Interior of the Basilica of Santo Stefano
Canzo (Como, Italy): Arch of the presbytery and vault of the transept of the Basilica of Santo Stefano
Canzo (Como, Italy): Presbytery and choir of the Basilica of Santo Stefano
Canzo (Como, Italy): Vault of the crossing of the Basilica of Santo Stefano