Church of San Lorenzo
The church of San Lorenzo stands on a hillock belonging to the hills north of the Borbore river, slightly above the main road, in a region called Malaterra.
It is surrounded and protected by wild trees, mainly locusts and hackberries, just beyond the edge of a grassy plain that allows for exploration of the church’s sides and apse.
The single nave building is oriented east-west (thereby conforming to the rule for medieval churches) with the apse and therefore the altar, facing towards the sunrise. The west-facing entrance is emphasised by the beautiful door with small columns, slightly protruding from the facade and framed vertically by two corner pilasters, which are in turn completed by a tiled frame. Three rows of sandstone blocks line the facade, interspersed with multiple rows of bricks, according to the characteristic construction techniques of the Monferrato Romanesque. In the south facade, which has been extensively remodeled over the centuries, there is a closed-up portal, which protrudes slightly from the wall and preserves some Romanesque architectural features, for example an arch made with blocks of sandstone and an overlying alternating ring of brick and stone blocks. The apse, which has also undergone extensive modifications, has three panels separated by two thin pilasters, originally carved from stone blocks, bearing beautiful geometric motifs. There are also three elegant, widely splayed mullioned windows, all framed by sandstone and monolithic arches.
To date there is little historical information regarding San Lorenzo due to the fact that the fortified town of which the church was head ( referred to in a document of 1041 as Tigliole Santa Maria), belonged to the bishop of Pavia, where further research still needs to be carried out. However, the sculpted areas of the church, which are never figurative but made up instead of geometric elements and ribbon-like repetitions, lead us to suppose that these parts of church were built around the twelfth century. Originally, even from 974, the area depended upon the parish of San Giulio Lavege, a village which has since disappeared but once stood near the town of San Giulio San Damiano. Later, after the period of ownership by Pavia, in 1345 San Lorenzo is mentioned among the churches of Marcellengo Pieve (San Damiano). Only in 1507 is it mentioned directly in the descriptive cadastre of Tigliole and, later, the historian Asti De Canis states that at the beginning of the eighteenth century the church’s surrounding grounds took on a cemetery function. In 1803 it was taken on by the vicariate of the city of Asti, and was later moved into the vicariate of Baldichieri.
A much-needed, partly reconstructive, restoration was carried in the nineties, saving the building from certain ruin.
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. 184-191
CAPPELLINO M., Chiesa di San Lorenzo Tigliole, in a cura di, Osservatorio del Paesaggio, “Il paesaggio del romanico astigiano”, CRASTI, 2006, pp. 168-169.