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Tour of the historic centre of Alassio

A fascinating route through pirate watchtowers and ancient churches

A tour of the city's architectural monuments will give you a chance to learn more about this town with a rich cultural heritage.

Let's start with the religious places. One of the oldest in Alassio, the Collegiate Church of Sant'Ambrogio, dates back to the 11th century; here we admire the typical Roman-Gothic cusped bell tower. Near the Collegiate Church, we can visit the Oratory of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, which dates back to the 16th century. Next we visit the Chapel of San Rocco, built in 1253. Inside, the beautiful 17th-century Genoese school altarpiece depicting the Madonna and Child with Saints Sebastian and Rocco at the sides. The 16th-century church of Santa Maria Immacolata in Piazza San Francesco tells the dramatic story of Alassio during the time of pirate raids. During one of the many raids by the Saracens, the people of Alassio appealed to the Virgin Mary to free the city, so the church was built as a votive offering for grace received. Finally, the oratory of the Madonna del Popolo in vico Sant'Erasmo, built in 1614 by coral fishermen, bears witness to the link between Alassio and the sea. A special feature of the church: the floor of the portico, dating from 1640, made entirely of sea pebbles, depicting coral boats and tuna.

Staying on the subject of the sea and pirates, a visit to the watchtowers is a must.

There are two of them and they are very well preserved. The oldest, the Tower of Vegliasco, is located on a hillock to the east of Alassio, halfway up the coast, in a very strategic position for monitoring the Baia del Sole. Dating back to around 1500, it has a cylindrical shape. About three metres from the ground there is a rectangular door, protected by a strong grating, operated by a drawbridge movement. The tower is also known as the "Tower of Adelesia", the daughter of Emperor Ottone I, who, according to legend, took refuge here after her marriage to Aleramo. The other watchtower, the "Torrione Saraceno", is located in Borgo Coscia and is adjacent to the sea. It was built in the 16th century; what remains today is only part of the large original curtain wall, erected to defend the shipyards and protect the city.

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