Chiesa di Santa Maria Foris Portas

Lake Maggiore & Around

Just outside the archaeological site of Sibrium, the small pre-Romanesque Chiesa di Santa Maria Foris Portas was built around the 7th century. Inside in the apse are some remarkable frescoes depicting scenes from the infancy of Jesus Christ and dominated by an image of Christ Pantocrator.

Art historians tend to think the frecoes were painted in Lombard times but some believe they are from the Carolingian period (8th or 9th century). Either way, they are a rare and vivid ray of pre-Romanesque artistic beauty. The realism, life and colour of the human figures seem to owe something to the classical art of ancient times, not at all like the stiff and, to some eyes, childlike religious art of the Romanesque period, still several centuries away. The church is usually kept locked; ask at the information office at Sibrium for staff to open it.

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