The hiking route called “The ring of the seven churches” is an invitation to let you know our territory from a point of view different from the ordinary. We will take you to a balcony overlooking the sea where you can travel among history, nature and traditions, discovering the most characteristic corners of our town, where even the simplest things become marvels. Celle Ligure is made up of several hamlets, each with its history and traditions still alive today. The churches have always been, even before being a place of worship, a point of aggregation and exchange for all the communities that have inhabited our hills for centuries and knowing their history by visiting them through ancient paths can help you understanding the magic of Liguria, made of stone, nature that in a few meters transforms from domestic to wild, feeding stories and legends.
The ring develops over 15 km with 500 m difference of elevation, climbing rapidly but then maintaining the same altitude, winding through footpaths, small villages, streams, different natural environments and touching some places of great historical interest, such as the birthplace of Pope Sixtus IV or the Bregalla tower. It is a route suitable for everyone and can be divided into shorter itineraries.
The elevation profile of the entire ring in visible in the following picture:
FIRST STOP: Church of the Assumption - Celle Piani
After the collapse of the Crocetta hill and the destruction of the pre-existing chapel following the explosion caused by German forces on 25 April 1945, in 1954 it was decided to build a new church based on a project by the architect Enzo Magnani. Inside the church you can admire the expressive Via Crucis in graffiti, the work of Enzo Rossi which occupies an entire wall of the church, and the holy water stoup, pulpit and balustrade by Emanuele Luzzati. The exterior is decorated on the front with an extraordinary ceramic relief done by the famous artist Lucio Fontana, which depicts Mary Immaculate with St. Michael and the Dragon; the churchyard, which incorporates the ancient art of "risseu" through a black and white mosaic was designed by Mario Rossello.
SECOND STOP: Church of S. Giovanni Battista and S. Lucia - Costa hamlet
The earliest records of this church date back to 1606, when it is mentioned as dedicated to St. Leonardo, although it probably already existed previously. The official consecration to S. Giovanni dates back to 1619 even if it has been found traces of festivities dedicated to the nativity of S. Giovanni also in the fifteenth century. In the tradition the anniversary of San Giovanni was celebrated with bonfires, typical of the pagan culture, which recalled also the summer solstice. The church was the subject of numerous repairs that ended in the radical renovation works done in 1815 and 1896 that gave it the aspect we can see now,
THIRD STOP: Church of San Lorenzo and Sant'Antonio Abate - Ferrari hamlet
The church dates back to 1638. In 1958 Giobatta Badino was entrusted with the task of restoring the church and rebuilding the bell tower, in 1988 the front was repainted. The church has a single nave, while the front is divided into three parts by pilasters and is crowned by a tympanum. In front of the church there is a churchyard of black and white pebbles dating back to 1902 and rebuilt in 1994. Gian Luigi Bruzzone, a local historian, in his essay on the streets of Celle, puts in evidence, in the interior, the floor, the furniture, the altarpiece of the Virgin Mary with Child, the fresco with the Saint in the medallion of the vault.
FOURTH STOP: Church of SS. Pietro and Donato - Brasi hamlet
The first records of this church date back to 1632, when it was requested the authorization to celebrate Mass in the Chapel of Saints Peter and Biagio, the church first title. Other historical documents found seems to demonstrate the existence of the church back in 1181. The interior of the church were transformed in the Baroque period with the two frescoed ovals, with beautiful frames, dedicated to the Saints Antonio and Apollonia and the altarpiece, also referred to the Baroque period.
FIFTH STOP: Church of S. Giorgio - Sanda hamlet
In 1530 the Eclesia Sancti Georgi de Cellis is mentioned, created to meet the needs of the community of Sanda, at the time dependent on the parish of San Michele in Celle. The process to have its own parish was very long and opposed on several occasions by the Cellese authorities and it took almost 20 years, from 1621 to 1640, to succeed. The church was enlarged and decorated several times in the following years up to the early 1900s, with the stucco decoration of the interiors by Eugenio Besio from Albisola. The interior is divided into three naves, obtained from the progressive demolition of some side chapels. Inside there are various works of art. Among others, it can be seen a crucifix attributed to Antonio Brilla, also author of the remarkable Processional Case dedicated to the Saint, created in 1865, and a painting depicting Our Lady of Mercy, probably by Girolamo Brusco.
Not far from the church it can be seen the oratory dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle. The building probably dates back to the second half of the seventeenth century and was rebuilt around 1728. Among the other works of art and decorations there is the first Processional Case of San Giorgio, purchased in Genoa in 1679, a valuable wooden work. small in size, restored in the year 2000.
SIXTH STOP: Church of SS. Giacomo and Filippo - Cassisi hamlet
The church is mentioned in documents from 1586 and may be among the oldest in Celle; the presence of different styles suggests different phases of construction as it is evident from the neo-Romanesque front which contrasts with the nave, decorated in the Baroque style. The altar is also in Baroque style, which features an interesting altarpiece with the Virgin Mary and the SS.Giacomo and Filippo. A curiosity is represented by the small bell tower on the right side of the church which recalls, in the pointed spire, the much more imposing bell tower of the parish church of San Michele Arcangelo.
SEVENTH STOP: Church of Sant'Isidoro and Nostra Signora della Guardia - Pecorile hamlet
The characteristic church that appears among the olive trees, towards the end of via Pecorile, dedicated not only to the Madonna della Guardia, but also to Sant 'Isidoro and to Saints Simone and Giuda, came to completion in the 1850s, when the construction was completed, and it was consecrated. The church houses, among other more recent decorative works, a marble bas-relief with the effigy of the Virgin and, from the eighteenth century, a carved wooden reliquary and an oval painting depicting St. Isidoro. The fresco on the front, repainted in 1977, shows the traditional image of Benedetto Pareto kneeling before the Virgin, iconography of the Madonna della Guardia of Genoa.
Birthplace of Pope Sixtus IV
Francesco della Rovere, who became Pope Sixtus IV in 1471 was bord in Celle Ligure, in the Pecorile hamlet, on the 21st of July, 1414. His parents were Leonardo della Rovere from Savona and Luchina Monleone, from Genoa. Sixtus IV family was of modest conditions, but with the sufficient means to give to Francesco a religious education that allowed him in-depth studies in the philosophical and theological fields, climbing up the hierarchical and academic scales over the years until he was awarded the title of Pope in 1467. Sixtus IV promoted the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition and the Spanish crusade against the Moors. His accomplishments as pope included the construction of the Sistine Chapel and the creation of the Vatican Archives. A patron of the arts, he brought together the group of artists who ushered the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpieces of the city's new artistic age.
Throughout the Middle Ages, a surveillance and warning system was erected along our coasts for maritime traffic or threats such as invasions or raids by more or less organized bands of marauders, generally defined as Saracens or Barbary, although often also composed of Ligurians or anyway from Europeans. This warning system was formed by a series of sighting towers placed in view of each other and always manned, able to communicate with each other with flags during the day and fires during the night and able to pass messages towards the ports, announcing the arrival in a very short time of merchant ships with their cargoes.
Later, this system gradually lost its function, until it was abandoned and reused, as in the case of the Bregalla tower, for agricultural purposes until its destruction in 1944 by the German occupiers, precisely because of its position, which made it an excellent reference point for triangulations in the event of a bombing.
Ring path Completion
The excursion route continues along the downhill road that from Pecorile hamlet leads to the Via Aurelia (Roglio area); from here it is possible to reach the Bottini Pinewood, a natural site that hosts a considerable number of trees typical of the suggestive Mediterranean scrub and from which it is possible to enjoy a unique view of Celle Ligure town.
Using a cableway it is possible to descend towards the historic downtown and walk along it both through the alleys overlooked by buildings of great artistic value, and along its promenade.
In order to reach Celle Piani, and the Church of the Assumption, we suggest taking the suggestive Roman Promenade which joins the beginning of Via Alla Costa at the height of the iron bridge with the intersection of Via Trentun and Via Crocetta. The walk retraces the rocky ridge, just like the ancient Roman road, which was built inside in order to avoid the obstacles of the coastal jaggedness, and for this reason it is a walk overlooking the sea, from east to west, from Genoa to Bergeggi.