Chiesa di San Giorgio di Bagnasco
To the north of Montafia, on an long hillside lies the village of Bagnasco. The village has belonged to the county of Cocconato since the thirteenth century, due to its detachment from the estate of Montafia at this time. The gateway of this medieval fort is still preserved today.
In 1345, San Giorgio di Bagnasco was home to the pieve upon which depended the churches of San Martino of Montafia, San Marziano of Montafia and Vignole (in the Montafia area), as well as the churches of San Martino of Capriglio and the lost sites of Montercaldo and Mainito.
The church’s importance is underlined by the imposing building with three naves and three coaxial apses. It is one of the few Romanesque Monferrato churches that survives in this form. The church lies on the hillside, partially within the boundaries of the local cemetery. Oriented east-west, it has a main façade with interrupted sloping rooves upon which, at an indeterminabile moment in time, three stone basins were placed, probably as a signal to pilgrims of the opportunity to use the pieve. Along the south side, a door and a few windows are now closed up. To the east the three apses rise above the top of the hill, the original structure has been preserved in the lower part but, starting from the base of the lancet windows, we can see that the walls were probably rebuilt in the fifteenth century using regular brick masonry. They are finished with a crown of simple arches and clay denti di sega decorations. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the south apse and part of the north were visibly joined together, due to the worrying state of degradation, by the orders of Superintendent Cesare Bertea.
Inside, four large stone partitions divide the central nave from the sides of the church. In a photographic document of 1916 we can see that there were stone vaults in the interior and the choir was separated from the nave by a stone partition, which was subsequently demolished. In the frescoes of the central apse, we can see St. George on horseback defeating the dragon in the upper part, in a painting from the nineteenth century. This fresco has been superimposed onto another, depicting San Sebastiano and San Rocco. On the lower edge of the fresco we can read the words “FECIT PROUD HOC OPUS ANTONIUS DE MUXINIS CIVIS AST … AN MCCCC”, dating the painting to 1400. At the bottom left we can identify depictions of a post-Jaqueriano Merciful Christ, and the martyr saints Agatha and Chiara, which also date back to the fifteenth century. In the north apse there is an imposing representation of San Michele the Archangel in a fresco dated from 1410 to 1420. The saint’s open hand pressed to his chest is particularly notable, and represents his total submission to God. In the south apse, a fresco fragment bears the image of St. John the Baptist bearing a medal upon which, until 1980, the Eucharist Lamb symbol was visible.
In the eighties and nineties the foundations of the apses were reinforced with micropiles and the roof was also restored.
BORDONE R., Proposta per una lettura della Corografia Astigiana dell’Avvocato G.S. De Canis, (1814), Asti, 1977, p. 67
PITTARELLO L. (a cura di), Le chiese romaniche delle campagne astigiane. Un repertorio per la loro conoscenza, conservazione, tutela, Torino -Asti, Soprintendenza per i beni ambientali e architettonici del Piemonte – Provincia di Asti, 1984 (ed. 1998), pp. 115-118, 263-275.
BORDONE R., a cura di, Comune di Montafia, Schede storiche-territoriali dei comuni del Piemonte, 1998.
CAPPELLINO M., Chiesa di San Giorgio di Bagnasco Montafia, in a cura di, Osservatorio del Paesaggio, “Il paesaggio del romanico astigiano”, CRASTI, 2006, pp. 136-139.