Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral
It was Bishop Francesco Riccamonti who laid the first stone for the Cathedral in Cervia, built between 1699 and 1702, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta.
Having started on 18 June 1699, construction work on the church, designed by Fontana, continued until 1702 when, on the 8th of June, the first Mass was celebrated.
The bare stone facade is incomplete: the original project which included an elegant marble slab cladding, could not be completed because the Bishop died.
The building is visible only from three sides because the North part is adjacent to the Palazzo del Vescovado, dating back to 1702. In 1750 the bell tower was added to the church.
The Church has a Latin cross plan, with a single nave and six side chapels.
On the first chapel to the right, without an altar, there is a canvas showing the town’s patron saint Paterniano, an anonymous artwork, an eighteenth century baptismal font and, on the sides, there are two statues: one of the Madonna del Fuoco, holding Baby Jesus, and one of San Lorenzo, another important religious figure for Cervia.
As for the paintings, inside the Cathedral there is one showing a Madonna with Child, known as “Madonna della Neve”, attributed to the painter Barbara Longhi, from the eponymous church, the only survivor from Cervia Vecchia, and the altar piece showing Saint Joseph holding Baby Jesus in his arms, from the school of Guercino.
The main altar, made of very fine multicoloured marble coming from the deconsecrated S. Domenico church in Forlì, is surmounted by an altar piece showing the Assunta between Saints Nicholas and Bartholomew, painted by Giovanni Barbiani from Ravenna (1566–1641).
The Cathedral, like the Priory Palace, was designed by Francesco Fontana, son, student and collaborator of Carlo Fontana, one of the most prestigious architects in 18th century Rome. In the original project the façade was characterised by huge Corinthian columns on a high pedestal, placed to the side of the entrance. The monumental classical composition was completed by a large-scale entablature with a wide gable overlooking the square.