As the legend goes, long, long ago a chest containing the finger bones of St. Margaret of Antioch washed up on the rocks in Vernazza’s harbor. I'll admit to some skepticism about this miraculous event ‘cause I’m not really sure how they knew who the waterlogged digits belonged to, plus various bits of her - or rumored to be her bits, anyway - now reside everywhere in the world BUT Vernazza. On top of that the existence of poor, martyred Margie was considered questionable as far back as the 5th century. But I digress…
Saintly bits needing a proper home, the citizens built a church, most probably on the headland near where Castello Belforte’s circular tower is now. Bad idea, that, ‘cause a storm blew in from the sea and washed away the sad remains of Miss Margaret...only to have them reappear on the same rock where they were originally found. Figuring somebody was trying to tell them to get it right this time, the folks raised her new church upon the spot where she’d been beached, and that’s where you’ll find Chiesa St. Margherita d’Antiochia today.
She was built around 1318 on the foundations of an 11th-century structure at the very edge of Vernazza’s Harbor, and expansion/restoration over successive centuries have altered her shape and some of her accouterments but her interior still feels darkly Medieval. Dark indeed, it’ll take a minute two for your eyes to adjust to the gloom, and it’s a very difficult place for snaps without flash or tripod. Decoration is spare; a few 17-century paintings, some processional crosses and a 15-century shrine. St. Margaret’s fingers? Nowhere in sight. Maybe floating about in search of another shore?
Santa Margherita d'Antiochia is local parish church situated on Piazza Marconi. The Church was built in 1318 but scholars are of the opinion that it could be from an earlier age. The construction of the church and the way it was built indicating style which was characteristic for the 12th century.
The church is unique for its east facing entryway, which is atypical for the catholic churches. It has nave and two aisles with an octagonal bell tower which rises from the apse. Santa Margherita was expanded upon and renovated over the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, when the bell tower was added too.
The Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia sitss adjacent to Vernazza's main piazza on the harbor. Construction of this building (described as "Ligurian Gothic") was begun in 1318. It certainly does not have the "wow factor" of Italy's great cathedrals, but it does feel like a place of worship.
The sandstone building of the Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia dominates the silhouette of Vernazza.
The Gothic church has an elegant octogonal tower (campanile).
The Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia overlooks the the small harbour of Vernazza.
The most important historical monument here is Santa Margherita di Antiochia a romanasque Geneose style church, which was built in the 13th century. Dedicated to the patron of the town, it remains intact: in the inside you can marvel at three well preserved wide naves and an unspoilt altar.
Even if you don’t plan to take the cliff path to Monterosso it is worth venturing a little way in that direction to enjoy the wonderful views of Vernazza from above. Looking down on the harbour and its surroundings gives you a much clearer sense of the geography of the town and the relationships between its few significant buildings and their surroundings. The striking roof-tiles of the Chiesa di Santa Margherita d'Antiochia are even more fish-like than they appear from below, and the oleanders which line the path form a beautiful frame for the soft hues of the village houses, while Castello Doria dominates the rocky hill-top opposite.
Climb the steps from the harbour area or the main street, following signs for Monterosso. My photos were taken from near the hut that marks the official entry to the path, so you wouldn’t even need to pay the fee for the Cinque Terre card if you didn’t plan to go any further.
Dominating the Piazza Marconi in front of the harbour is this pretty pastel pink church dedicated to Santa Margherita d'Antiochia. Its unusual octagonal bell tower can’t fail to catch the eye, with a roof of overlapping tiles very reminiscent of the fish being landed in the harbour just below. And it couldn’t be nearer that harbour, with one wall dropping directly into the water below.
The church was begun in 1318, and expanded during the 16th and 17th centuries to give the nave and two aisles we see today. Inside it is rather less attractive, rendered dim and even gloomy by the heavy use of the local black stone. Do look though for the 15th century Gothic tabernacle in the apse.
According to a tradition, the church was built following the discovery of a wooden box with the bones of Saint Margaret on the beach below this spot. But the local people decided to build the church in another part of the village, where it was destroyed by a strong storm and heavy seas. The relic was lost, only to reappear some time later in the original spot. The people got the message, and built a new church there, where it still stands today.
The church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia was first mentioned in 1310 and was constructed in Gothic-Ligurian style. The 40 m high bell tower is rather unusual: it has an octagonal shape. You will find the entrance in the apse.
The interior to me was not really that spectacular, although in the apse there is a wonderful 15th-century gothic tabernacle. The rest of the church is held rather plain: a nave, two isles and everything looks rather dark in the inside, which is probably due to the use of the local black slate.
Vernazza straggles along a partly hidden river, and opens out on to a little piazza by the beach.
It is dominated by a beautiful church in Gothic-Ligurian style of 1318, dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch with the bell-tower in Nolan style with an octagonal dome.