Loano Travel Guide

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An ancient town from the Roman era, it was set on the Via Julia Augusta, two of whose bridges are still standing, including the “Pontetto” now covered by the Aurelia. In the ninth-tenth century it was abandoned, along with the whole of the coastal region, and its inhabitants sought refuge from the Saracen raids in the mountains and valleys of the hinterland. In 1263 it became a fief of Oberto Doria and it is to the credit of his son Raffo, who granted them many tax concessions, that in 1309 much of its population came back to live by the sea. The Doria ruled Loano almost uninterruptedly until 1735, when it was occupied by the Savoy. The family has left its mark on the town with the many religious and civil monuments that it constructed, especially Palazzo Doria, now the town hall, which is considered one of the most representative examples of Renaissance civil architecture in Liguria. It has a sixteenth-century portal in black stone and a loggia with paintings on the left side, while a large mosaic floor from the age of Imperial Rome (third century AD) has been installed in the central hall on the second floor.
The same room now houses an ornithological museum. A gallery links the palace to the pentagonal defensive tower, erected in 1602 and used to house the town garrison. Its middle floor is now used as a conference hall. The Doria also built the seventeenth-century parish church of San Giovanni Battista, with a ten-sided plan and a dome, which houses an important collection of paintings (works by Borgione, de Ferrari, Ansaldo, Coppellino and Badaracco), and the church of Sant'Agostino (with attached monastery and cloister), which has a nave and two aisles separated by columns of pink Finale stone. The nave has a vault with ample lunettes that let in the light. It houses large statues by M. Sparzo (late sixteenth to early seventeenth century) and numerous paintings (Paggi, Semino, Brandimarte). The religious devotion of the Doria family is symbolized by the complex of Monte Carmelo, a group of buildings constructed between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the form of a Latin cross with an octagonal dome, as well as by a monastery later converted into the family residence and a four-story-high tower on a square base that dominates the whole town. Today Loano is a renowned seaside resort with a capacious tourist harbor protected by a wharf that extends for 500 meters or 1640 feet and which has berths for 600 boats. A noteworthy event in the history of the town was the battle of Loano, which took place during the period of expansion of the French Revolution (November 1795) between the French Revolutionary forces (Army of Italy) and the Austrian Imperial (Army of Lombardy) and Royal Sardinian forces. The event was of such significance that it was recorded on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. At Loano the French, dressed in rags and with no shoes, their provisions totally exhausted, boldly took advantage of the winter weather to attack the enemy. The opposing army was taken completely unawares. The French immediately broke through the enemy lines and, making forced marches, pursued the fleeing forces, which were only able to regroup on Piedmontese territory. The front of this battle was very wide: the fighting that began in such a bloody fashion at Loano and Garessio ended on the heights of Calizzano, Calice Ligure and Feglino. It was this first victory on Italian soil that allowed the First Italian Campaign, led by the young general Napoleon Bonaparte, to be brought to a successful conclusion, after the heroism displayed by the French and Italian troops at Millesimo, Dego and Cosseria, with the enemy’s crushing defeat at Cairo Montenotte.
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