The most important church of Ariccia is the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta. Its construction was commissioned by the Pope, who was a member of the Chigi family, so it is probably not a coincidence that the church is located next to the Palazzo Chigi.
Santa Maria Assunta Church Ariccia
Address: Piazza di Corte – 00072 Ariccia. Phone: (+39) 06 9330637. Opening times: From 08.00 till 12.00 and from 16.00 till 19.30. Ticket price: Free. Name in Italian: Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta.
History and description
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII Chigi and designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini, at the time the “house architect” of the Chigi family, collaborated with his student Carlo Fontana.
Construction started in 1662 and was finished in 1664.
The structure, with its circular floor plan and the enormous dome, was based on that of the Pantheon in Rome. The dome is supported by eight columns, with stucco decorations by Bernini’s pupils.
The central part of the floor is decorated with the Chigi coat of arms. The original pavement itself was replaced in 1956.
What to see
There are two 17th century wooden baptismal fonts next to the entrance.
The present organ is contained in the Baroque case of the original one.
The fresco taking up the entire apse depicts “The Assumption of Mary”. The high altar date back to 1687. The apse was enlarged in 1779, which is also when the balustrade separating it from the main body of the church was added.
Although Bernini’s design for the church is generally considered one of his masterpieces, the Pope was reportedly not completely happy with it. He claimed that its structure made it harder to celebrate mass.