An itinerary to discover the treasures kept within the municipal boundaries can only begin with the parish church of Saint Michael the Archangel, "a diamond set in a forest of olive trees" according to the famous definition coined by the French tribune Lèon Gambetta, cellasco on his father's side, whose birthplace is located in the heart of the historic center, in via Sant'Antonio.
Erected between 1630 and 1645 on the remains of a 12th century church, of which it preserves the cusped bell tower, the Parish Church houses great names in Genoese painting, Piola and Fiasela in particular, a rare 15th century crucifix and the 19th century nativity scene of Antonio Brilla, whose terracotta statuettes reproduce scenes of popular life.
The apse houses, above the altar, the Polyptych of San Michele and the Saints that Perin del Vaga, a pupil of Raphael, painted in 1535 during the period of his stay in Genoa. Legend tells it that it is an ex-voto by the painter for having found salvation on the beach of Celle after a shipwreck; in reality, as an inscription states, it was commissioned by “Cellaschi” fishermen, who proved to know and appreciate an artist who worked in the highest cultural environments of the time.
In front of the church there is the churchyard, a mosaic of over half a million black and white stones that the pupils of the elementary classes of the Celle school, between the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, collected on the shoreline from Albisola to Cornigliano.
Behind the church is the ancient Oratory of San Michele, referred to as “domus disciplinatorum” in documents from the second half of the 1500s, consisting of a single simple and essential rectangular hall, with a stuccoed presbytery only in the nineteenth century. Here the brothers guard the crucifixes carried in procession: index of their culture, the choice of Pasquale Navone as the author of the Crucifix expiring (1767).
The patrimony of the oratory is above all the polychrome wooden case, in lime wood, San Michele Arcangelo by Anton Maria Maragliano of 1694, traditionally carried on the shoulders by the christians, during the processions in honor of the patron saint.
From the Parish Church of S. Michele, the itinerary continues along via Colla to reach the historic center, one of the best preserved prototypes of a linear coastal village.
After the railway viaduct on the left stands a tower, the main door of Palazzo Avogadro, built in the nineteenth century to refine the eighteenth-century Palazzo of the Avogadro family. The Lion and the pavement represent the origins and the coat of arms of the family.
Continuing along via Boagno you will find the Nostra Signora della Misericordia retirement home, which preserves a precious collection of majolica from the ancient Ligurian pharmacy of the eighteenth century, 35 blue and white ceramic vases that testify to the presence of the ancient furnaces in the surrounding area and the in the tradition of white-blue. Also in this case the ancient-contemporary combination goes perfectly.
Alongside tradition, the chapel houses ceramic works (altar and Via Crucis) by Eliseo Salino, sculptor and ceramist from Albisola (1919-1999), a leading player in the history of Albisola ceramic art.
A journey through the art of Celle cannot fail to present the eighteenth-century Palazzo Ferri, now the Town Hall, which houses some important works by the painter Raffaele Arecco, to which the municipal administration dedicated an anthological exhibition in 2010.
A curiosity related to Palazzo Ferri concerns the word "town hall" written above the entrance door. It is made as a "stencil" with the rods cut from a copper plate and with the light color of the wall in contrast with the dark metal. The plaque was designed in 1976 by the architect Pasquale Gabbaria Mistrangelo while it was the painter Gianpaolo Parini (1941-2015) who designed the letters that are characterized by the three different kinds of terminations at the top and bottom.
The council chamber, also inside the town hall, houses the work “Leon Gambetta”, a portrait sculpted in slate by Nanni Servettaz, also author of the “Head of a Woman” kept in the same building at the Tourist Information and Reception Office.
In addition to the aforementioned works, in Celle you can find a “Pietà” made in pietra serena by Dego and a bronze “Pietà” in the two municipal cemeteries, a bronze bust, depicting Silvio Volta, in the square in front of the railway station and a bronze "lunette" in Piazza del Popolo, depicting St. Michael killing the Devil.
Along the seafront, you arrive at the Church of “Nostra Signora della Misericordia” whose current structure is the result of the transformation, which took place in the 17th century, of the ancient conventual settlement of the church of Santa Maria della Grotta. The building is characterized externally by a typical decoration in two-tone white and gray-turquoise horizontal stripes, with a pseudo-Romanesque 19th century facade.
Walking through the Crocetta gallery you reach the Piani di Celle with its jewel: the Parish Church of Maria Assunta, born from the historical and spiritual heritage of the Crocetta Sanctuary, destroyed during the Second World War, on the day of the Liberation, by the German army. The design of the church was entrusted to the architect Enzo Magnani and the construction was carried out between the autumn of 1954 and 1959.
The Church represents an example of modern architecture of great value and is characterized by an absolute essentiality of the lines, constituting an example of excellence for the territory both from an architectural and artistic point of view. On the façade there is a high relief of the Assumption with St. Michael and the Dragon, by Lucio Fontana: made of terracotta, the work depicts the Virgin surrounded by three heads of cherubs, while two angels pull her veil and more below the dragon from the long tail that creeps into the celestial scene, at the feet of the Virgin, to devour the child; in an ascending diagonal respect to the Madonna, San Michele arrives with his rod to hit the monster . The struggle between evil and good is suspended here in an eternal, timeless sky: even if Good will triumph, the scene, observed from below, is perceived as the frame of a dramatic moment, which maintains a strong tension in the dynamism of the action.
The building, with a trapezoidal shape, bell tower with a gable roof and two rectangular openings, is internally characterized by a single nave, illuminated by the soft light that penetrates from the vertical side windows, made by Enrica Valenziano and depicting leaves painted in the liturgical colors. In the sober interior and designed in light tones, a note of color, fable and poetry comes from the work of Emanuele Luzzati, author of the holy water fonts, the pulpit and the balustrade. The architectural elements are transformed by Luzzati's imagination into timeless characters: musician angels-children made of colored ceramic with turquoise glazes and touches of lapis lazuli. You can also find a “Via Crucis” by Rossi, unique in Italy, engraved with the “fresco technique”. Outside, the black and white mosaic churchyard, depicting the three crosses of Golgotha, was designed by Mario Rossello with a sober and essential language.