Considered the most beautiful in Italy thanks to its singular panoramic position embracing the Gulf of Naples, the Church of SS. Annunziata represents a unique testimony of Gothic architecture in the whole area of the Sorrento Peninsula. It is the ancient cathedral of Vico Equense and episcopal seat until the death of Monsignor Michele Natale in 1799.
Located in the historic centre of the town, the Church of the SS Annunziata stands out on a promontory of about 90 meters overlooking the sea. Today it is a highly aimed location by couples of lovers ready to pronounce their “yes”, thanks to the enchanting panorama it offers.
Church of SS. Annunziata: History
The facade and the area in front of the churchyard have always been the undisputed protagonists of the most famous painters’ artworks.
The temple was built between 1320 and 1330 on indications of the then bishop Giovanni Cimmino, to transfer the original bishop’s seat from the village of Marina d’Equa to Vico Equense centre. At the time, Saracen raids from the sea were too many and too disastrous: then, it was necessary to move the city and religious centre to the upper part of the city.
Although today the facade of the church is Baroque, an unequivocal sign of the important changes on the building over the centuries, the interior reveals its 14th-century original structure (thanks to the last restoration that took place following the earthquake in 1980).
Church of SS. Annunziata: Arwork
Among the artworks in the church, both the canvas dominating the apse depicting an Annunciation by the painter Giuseppe Bonito and the funeral monument of Bishop Giovanni Cimmino (1313-1343) deserve particular attention.
The sacristy, in a Gothic style, preserves a series of 33 paintings framed by stucco medallions, work of the painter Francesco Palummo (1786), arranged on the walls of the room and illustrating the same number of Vico Equense’s bishops.
The thirty-third painting, depicting an Angel calling for silence, replaces the image belonged to the last bishop of Vico Equense, Mons. Michele Natale, publicly hanged in Piazza Mercato, in Naples, during the Neapolitan revolution of 1799.
Moreover, the church has a room below the central nave, which acts as a permanent exhibition area for the ancient furnishings of the Cathedral. Thus, we find, remains of the fourteenth-century frescoes that decorated the temple, sacred vestments and furnishings that belonged to the various succeeded bishops, sepulchral tombstones of the ancient noble families of Vico Equense.
The place has not a medieval structure and creates a sort of crypt used as a pole of the Sorrentine-Stabiese Diocesan Museum.
Church of SS. Annunziata: Detail
The Cathedral has a basilica structure composed by three naves, originally divided into tuff columns and subsequently incorporated into pillars. Subject to a long restoration, the pentagonal apse has been brought back to its original Gothic style and is bordered by long slopes. Probably, it was entirely painted, according to the stylistic and architectural uses of the time. More than reliable intuition, considering that we can still admire two fragments of frescoes from the late Giotto school coming from the apsidal area and depicting the Crucifixion and Saints. The walls of the church also were painted but, unfortunately, we have no testimony.
After admiring this beautiful church and its breathtaking view, we recommend you also visit the Chapel of Saint Lucia, a jewel not to be missed!
To get to the Church of SS. Annunziata
Circumvesuviana station of Vico Equense is about 650 metres from the Church of SS. Annunziata.
Head west on Corso Filangieri towards Via Cristoforo Colombo.
At the roundabout, take the first exit and stay on Corso Filangieri, then turn left to stay on Corso Filangieri.
Turn right and take Vico Aponte and finally turn left and take Via Vescovado.