TheChurch of Saint Nicholas(also known as San Niccolò) is located on the right bank of the Chiascio River, next to the Bastiola Bridge.
The small church, dedicated toSt. Nicholas of Bari(c. 270 –343), bishop of Myra (Turkey), is today incorporated into a private house that belonged to the Ridolfi family, to whom only the chapel currently remains.
The church, probably built after the year 1000, is first recorded in a cadastral document of 1354, where it is mentioned as Sanctus Nicolaus de Ponte Claxi.The building was originally part of a hospital, called Hospitale Pontis Chiascii,intended for the temporary reception and assistance of foreigners and pilgrims travelling along the road between Perugia and Assisi. It is also reported in two other documents of particular historical interest:
an inventory of 1593, from which we learn that the church – indicated as S. Nicolò dell’Isola Romanesca– until 1575 was subject to the parish of Sant’Angelo and was subsequently entrusted to the Friars Minor Conventual;
themap of the landbelonging to the church, drawn up in 1673 by surveyor Giuseppe Lolli to be attached to a notarial deed, which shows that the property had been given in emphyteusis in 1534 to a certain Baldo di Simone da Lucca.
The historian Antonio Cristofani in his Storia della Bastia Umbra (1872) reports that, according to a painted inscription commissioned here in 1708 by Abbot Francesco Angelini of Assisi, the church (together with that of Santa Lucia) had been rebuilt a short time before by Abbot Bernardino Simbeni of Rimini, who received its prebends (i.e. income).
In the church, which has a rectangular plan with reduced dimensions compared to the original ones, there are some paintings of particular historical and artistic interest:
– on the back wall, in the centre, an oil on canvas altarpiece with St Nicholas of Bari (late 17th century), from the Umbrian area: the saint is depicted in bishop’s robes with mitre and holding a book with three golden balls, in memory of the episode in which he saved three poor girls from prostitution by secretly giving them three bags of gold for their dowries.
on the back wall, in the centre, a painting of Saint Mary Magdalene (19th century), oil on canvas, from the Umbrian area: the saint is shown holding a jar of ointment with which she perfumed the feet of Jesus Christ and went to his tomb after his crucifixion.
on the sides of the altar, on shelves, a pair of statues of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi (18th century), in carved wood covered with painted plaster, from the Umbrian area.
on the counter-façade, on the right, Holy water stoup (15th century), in sculpted stone, from the Umbrian area: the object is the only remaining testimony of the primitive church.