The interior, the chapels of the right aisle and the pulpit
Point of interest 3
Listen to the audio guide
The Cathedral as a whole and in its details is simply imposing.
Where you are standing – with your back to the main entrance – is the best place to have a complete view of the magnificence of the nave, right up to the main altar. Your gaze can embrace the harmonious and austere sequence of mighty pillars, the white pulpit and the broad marble façade on which the wide presbytery with its thick balustrade stands.
The inside of the church originally had a more pronounced vertical thrust: this was sustained by the primitive wooden covering of the nave and transept, by the lack of side chapels, by the higher level of the presbytery floor, compared to today, and finally by the presence of a massive central monumental entrance staircase.
The cross vaults were built in 1530, resulting in the construction of two new side aisles between 1788 and 1790 to host the church chapels.
Look up to the vaults of the nave. They were decorated with stories from the life of Jesus and the Virgin and images of the Prophets, between 1862 and 1864 by the local painter Pietro Ivaldi, known as Il Muto – The Mute, from Toleto (a suburb of Ponzone, near Acqui), who also painted the side chapels, the dome spandrels and the presbytery lining flanking the main altar.
From this position, above the main entrance you can see the great organ, built in a solid wooden choir from 1874.
A curiosity: this organ has still two original 61-key keyboards and its pedal board has 27 pedals. Now move to the right side aisle.
You are now in front of the first chapel, known as the “Chapel of the Crucifix”,
planned in 1933 by the Canon Alessandro Thea, priest and architect from Acqui. It is named after a fine ivory crucifix made from a single elephant tusk, giving the shape of the dying Christ a slightly curved aspect.
It is the work of the Genoese sculptor Angelo Righetti dating from 1932. The chapel also features a stained glass window and a sumptuous Baroque confessional.
Walking down the aisle, you can see a number of elegant rococo confessionals made of precious walnut oak:
there are eight of them in the church, all dating from the second half of the 18th century.
Continue to the fifth bay, just before the staircase: on your right there is the “Chapel of St Carlo Borromeo”. In 1621, Bishop Beccio promoted a subscription for the construction of its altar,
and in 1825, Bishop Sappa De’ Milanesi completed its construction, enriching the elegant altar with polychrome marble and an altarpiece representing St Carlo.
Before descending to the crypt and continuing the guided tour, you can see the exquisite marble pulpit situated in the nave in a position carefully chosen to allow the speaker to be seen and heard by the believers.
The pulpit – crafted by the Genoese workshop Monteverde between 1845 and 1847 by combining Renaissance marbles from the ancient chapels of the Cathedral – is supported by an elegant fluted column and adorned with valuable bas-reliefs. The clearly outlined figures represent renowned Saints and Preachers:
St Guido on a throne with St Antonio of Padua on the right and St Nicola of Tolentino on the left; to the right of the central group are St Giacomo and St Giovanni the Baptist, and to the left, St Pietro and St Guido.
Point of interest 2
The main portal and side entrances
Point of interest 4