In 831, some Venetian merchants arrived near Cropani on their way back from Alexandria where they had collected the remains of the Evangelist Mark. According to this reconstruction, the ship was caught in a bad storm and wrecked near the beach of Cropani. The inhabitants aided the merchants who, as a sign of recognition, gave them a fragment of the kneecap of the saint’s right knee, kept in the church of Santa Maria Assunta (the Duomo).
Later, the merchants awarded the people of Cropani the honorary citizenship of Venice.The mother church or the Assunta is a monumental building whose first layout dates to the 13th century. The structure was built with large blocks of tufaceous granite and stands out because of its imposing bell tower, 43 metres high compared to the original 47.
The church of the Assunta houses notable works of art including statues, relics, paintings and frescoes in 18th century Baroque style and a notable wooden ceiling with arabesques with 15th century paintings.
The little ‘Antiquarium Diocesano’ museum inside the Duomo can be visited. It holds many works of sacred art including half-bust reliquaries sculptured in the round, finely decorated in damascened gold leaf dating to the 16th century, precious silver items and sacred 18th century vestments and also an interesting marble tabernacle sculptured bas-relief dating to 1545.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick.