In Saliceto’s main square, just next to the castle, lies a building with unique architectural features. In fact, it is one of the few Renaissance buildings in Piedmont (along with the church of the Assunta in Roccaverano, the Duomo in Turin and San Sebastiano in Biella).
Date: end of the 15th to beginning of the 16th century.
Commissioned by the cardinal and patron Carlo Domenico Del Carretto of Finale Ligure, the church of San Lorenzo is currently Saliceto’s parish church.
The interior is entirely frescoed, but the most interesting and significant element is the façade: made of carved sandstone, it is divided into three parts, with an entrance for each one. Above the central portal is a portrait of Cardinal Del Carretto with a dedication and the coat of arms of the marquisate.
The façade features an extraordinary wealth of details, with figures and symbols in bas-relief. Sadly many of these have eroded due to the crumbliness of the stone used in the construction.
According to some theories, these figures are esoteric references, and in fact include a number of symbolic animals, like a tortoise, a winged frog, a winged horse, a phoenix and a standing eagle along the sides of the portal.
Some of this representations have connections to natural elements (fire for the tortoise) or specific symbology (St John for the eagle).
Unusual floral decorations are also visible, like the roses inside the pilaster strips. And some subjects are undeniably esoteric, like a probable Hermes Trismegistus, symbol of wisdom, on the entry portal, both on the right and on the left and a Baphomet, a reference to the world of the Templars and their mysteries.
Opinion is still divided on whether or not Cardinal Del Carretto had a connection with secret associations or Freemasonry.