According to some sources, supported by finds in the foundations, the first religious building on the site of Brugnato Cathedral was constructed in the 7th century over a palaeochristian necropolis, the church of a monastery dependent on Bobbio Abbey, founded by and dedicated to Saint Columbanus. It was rebuilt in the 11th-12th centuries, passed to a resident community of Benedictine monks, and became in 1133 the seat of the diocese of Brugnato (suffragan of the Archdiocese of Genoa) which had spiritual authority over the middle and upper Val di Vara.
With the arrival of the Ghibellines during the 14th century, and the consequent flight of the bishop, who took refuge in Pontremoli, the cathedral lost importance, although it remained as the church of the abbey of the Benedictine community. In 1820 the diocese was merged into those of La Spezia and Sarzana-Luni to form a single diocese with its seat in La Spezia, leaving the abbey church with the title of 'co-cathedral'.
Restoration work in the 1950s brought about the rediscovery of the remains of the original Romanesque church which were the objects of study in 1994 when archaeological excavations conducted by the archaeological authorities of Liguria revealed the ancient perimeter walls, the floors and a baptismal font beneath the centre of the nave.
The groundplan is based on two asymmetrical naves separated by columns, a fairly common arrangement in the religious buildings of Lunigiana although less so in the churches of Liguria. Above the massive columns are thick semi-circular arcades.
There are differences between the two naves: the central and larger one is covered by barrel vaulting and ends in a semicircular apse with three single-light windows; the smaller side nave to the south however has bays of groin vaulting and terminates in a square wall inside within an external curved apse.
The interior, which is very sober, with few decorative elements retains traces and sculptured fragments from the ancient primitive church, as well as some frescoes among which, on the second column on the south, is one of the 14th century depicting Saint Columbanus giving a blessing; another, discovered during the works of 1994, is on the wall of the lesser nave and shows the Presentation in the Temple, in which may be recognised, not only Jesus, Joseph, Mary and the high priest, but also Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Laurence.
A painting by Vincenzo Comaschi, dated 1821, depicts the Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus on her lap among angels and Saints Francis and Laurence. Near the high altar is a polyptych showing Scenes from the life of Christ.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.