The Church of Sant’Antonio is located in the territory of Anfo, in Via Sant’Antonio, and is owned by the parish of Saints Peter and Paul of Anfo (BS).
The church of Sant’Antonio de Castrum or Casterio,named so since the first half of the fifteenth century and handed down by the oral dialectal memory as Sant’Antonio di Castér, is located upstream of the main road that runs along Lake Idro, at the point where the road that leads to Bagolino comes off.
It is characterised, in its architectural form, as the only monument of the early Renaissance remained intact in Valle Sabbia; it is distinguished by its taste of robust simplicity in a volumetric and spatial relationship. It has very ancient origins: probably in the second half of the XIII century in this place there was a small church dedicated to the Egyptian coptic recluse, Antonio, known and venerated as Sant’Antonio Abate.
In the fourteenth century the primitive church housed both on the internal and on the external surface’s frescoes, of which still retains some fragments. Coinciding with the beginning of the Venetian domination (third – fourth decade of the fifteenth century), the church was demolished for three-quarters, rebuilt more broadly and with various modifications; but preserving the bell tower in its original form. At the time of the demolition, the old church had on the north interior wall a large fresco depicting the Last Supper, of which only one but significant fragment remained visible: the entire figure of an Apostle.
Later, around 1488 – 89, the church was decorated with the most consistent cycle of frescoes, executed in the presbytery, with the illustration of the life of the Saint in the two side walls, the Crucifixion on the bottom and the four evangelists on the vault.
Of the pictorial cycle carried out in the adjoining chapel, on the east side towards the lake, the work of the same group of painters who worked in the presbytery, only a few remains are visible, enough to give us the measure of the poetic – pictorial quality of the paintings. The chapel was dedicated to Christian martyrs, compared to many Hercules of the faith. In fact, the mythological character is represented here in elegant monochromes.
In the lunette on the north wall, still well recognizable, is the effigy of Simonino of Trento, who proudly waves the banner of the Cross. In the lunette to the south, between the Madonna and Ercole with the Hydra, was Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Under the fake entablature, in the lower register, a sequence of elegant fake niches housed other martyred saints including the patrons of Brescia Faustino and Giovita. On the pillars of the entrance arch to the chapel, two more martyrs are still visible, the saints Sebastiano and Biagio.
Other frescoes of the late fifteenth century, fundamentally suggested by the same pictorial school of the other two decorative cycles, are scattered on the walls of the nave and probably others still lie beneath the crumbling plaster and the overtoned plasters.
The original chromatic surfaces of the wide and low ribbed vaults of the nave, characterized by an essential two-tone white background with red bands in the ribs, recently freed from plaster and bleached, were clearly dissonant with the lyrical refinement of the already resurfaced surfaces of the presbytery and of the side chapel, create a particular atmosphere of spatial and lyrical essentiality that remarks and harmonizes with the pictorial narration performed on the remaining surfaces
Recovered in their original appearance, all the chromatic surfaces of the interior of the monument return the complete data of an environment certainly out of the ordinary for symbiosis between architecture and painting.