This itinerary will allow you to know some interesting aspects of Diano Marina, often hidden to the eyes of the tourists. It begins in Piazza Dante, beside the Parish Church. This square has the monument to Nicola Rossi, in its centre. Rossi was a friend of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who gave him the command of one of the two steamers that took part in the soldier’s expedition called “dei Mille”. Walking east, along Via Aurelia, you find at your left the Hotel Paradiso, built at the end of the 19th century in its eclectic style. In that period, Diano Marina - as many other cities on the coast - was discovered by the English, and became a winter resort, thanks to its favourable climate. You will then reach the Oratory of the Santissima Annunziata.
In front of it, until the last century, arose the tower built as protection against the invasions of the Barbareschi Pirates. In the garden you can admire remarkable examples of Monterey cypresses (Cupressus Macrocarpa). Inside the Oratory, whose door was originally on the northern side, there are some pieces of frescoes made by the brothers Biasacci da Busca in 1478, showing scenes from the Virgin’s life. The building, which sustained a remaking during the centuries, hosted the reunions of the local confraternities. Going east about 50 mt. you will reach Piazza Virgilio, still called today by the inhabitants of Diano “Piazza dell’Olio” (square of the oil), to remember where the most important commerce of the town took place in ancient times. You come back to the centre town, walking along Via Doria, and then you turn in Via Colombo, until the crossing with Via Roma. Then you walk to the west on Via Roma. Observing this street, you can understand the urban structure of Diano Marina that was newly planned immediately after the earthquake in 1887. This event strongly hit the town, with two powerful tremors, the morning of 23 February. Many houses fallen down, others had to be later demolished. The project for the rebuilding was given to the engineer Giacomo Pisani, who constructed new houses with envisioned only three floors, along streets arranged in echelon formation. The result is a very elegant and uniform centre town. The boulevard is decorated with bitter orange trees, an idea of a prefect with Sicilian origins. In the middle of Via Roma there’s the Piazza del Municipio. In the entrance of the Town Hall are hosted some “ziri”, old jars used as containers to transport grain overseas, and other products from the departments of the Roman Empire, to Rome. These examples come from the excavations under the sea, made after the discovery of a relic of a roman ship, named Pacata Felix, sank in the gulf. Close to the Town Hall there’s the Palazzo Maglione; at the corner we cross Via Cavour - that was the connection street between the castle - upon the hill - and the seacoast.
At number 31 the portal of Palazzo Ardoino is still visible. Here in 1814, the Pope Pio VII was hosted, during his way back to Rome, after a period spent in the French prisons. You go ahead along Via Roma, and then you turn on Via Cairoli. The building used today as a cinema and theatre, has a classical style façade, upon the project of Pisani, who originally created it as a meeting hall for the inhabitants. At the corner with Via Nizza, you turn left into the street that crosses the whole Diano Marina from east to west, you pass in front of the Asilo Comunale, another work by Pisani, and you reach the cross with Via Cavour. From this position, you can observe the only aristocratic palace that resisted the earthquake in 1887. Palazzo Ardoino owned to a rich local family, who received by Napoleone the title of nobility. Some changes have been made during the last century, nevertheless, you can still admire the elegance and the magnificence of the building, divided into a main floor, where the aristocracy lived, and other floors, simpler, for servants. The nice portal, with its columns and gable, unfortunately has been demolished. Some rich stucco works and a nice terrace with a balustrade remains on the façade towards the sea.
You continue along the alley beside the church. To enter, use the main door, the one in front of the sea. The church, in classical style, is a project of the architect L. Crescia. Inside we have one nave and two side aisles, divided by columns ending with Corinthian capitals. In the side aisles, we find the chapels, rich in marble decorations and stucco works. Many paintings of this church, belonged to the previous parish church, and to the friary of the Domenicans, once situated in the area where today the train station is. It was demolished at the time of the Ligurian Republic, end of the 18th century. Beginning our visit by the right side aisle, we can admire a building showing the Ecce Homo, a clear inspiration to Caravaggio, then upon, we find the painting “Circumcision”, by Orazio de Ferrari, first half of the 17th century. The altar is dedicated to the archangel Raphael. On the left, a painting of the Virgin as a Queen, made by the school of Piola, 17th century. Then St. Domenico in Soriano, a picture supposed to be by the school of Fiasella. The altar is dedicated to the Virgin of Carmine, whose Day, on 16th July is celebrated by the inhabitants of Diano Marina. On the last altar of the right side, the remarkable Deposition from the Cross, by G. B. Casone, first half of the 17th century. Higher, the Baptism of Christ, by a painter supposed to be of the school of Luca Cambiaso. In the left side aisle, immediately after the altar of the Rosario, we find the altar of the family Ardoino, dedicated to St. Luigi Gonzaga. We can see their coat of arms, a dove holding a little flame. The last altar is dedicated to St. Erasmo, patron of the seamen. Sailing and fishing were the main jobs in Diano Marina, during the last centuries. The frescoes on the vault were executed at the beginning of the 20th century by Luigi Morgari and Raffaello Resio.