S. Antonino Basilica is one of the most interesting sacred buildings in Piacenza from the historical-artistic point of view, for its architectural complexity as well as for its figurative display. The body of of Sant’Antonino, Patron saint of Piacenza, was moved to the Basilica in 400.Antonino, soldier in the Tebea Legion, had been beheaded in Travo in 303. His mortal remains are still preserved in an urn under the main Altar, together with those of San Vittore, first Bishop of Piacenza (322-357). Being located "extra moenia" the church underwent subsequent destructions and plunderings, up to its total destruction in the 10th century. Due to its peculiar structure, historians of the art thought the building was the result of various building stages, but recent studies have confirmed that the church was built by a single construction site, financed by the bishop of Piacenza, Sigisfredo, in 1014. The whole architectural structure, including the square belfry, dates back to this period.The belfry was made higher in the 12th century and supplied with three series of two-mullioned windows. The figures in the portal, representing Adam and Eve and belonging to the school of Piacenza, also date back to the 12th century. Inside, the church is divided into three naves by massive pillars.The floor was raised, preserving the base of the pre-romanesque pillars. The exceptionality of this operation is confirmed by the presence of some frescoes dating back to the half of the 11th century, that probably decorated the whole building and whose traces remain just in the attic and at the bottom of the belfry.
The frescoes are very remarkable both for the strong connection between architecture and decorations and for the quality of the paintings, which can be attributed to the longobardic school. The people represented remind greek-bizantine figures for their eastern physionomy as well as for their static aspect:they are always portrayed frontally or slightly turned. Researchers think they represent patriarchs and Prophets. One of whom may be identified with Osea.
The frescoes in the presbyterium date back to 1624 and were carried out by Camillo Gavasetti, a painter sponsored by Odoardo Farnese.
In the presbyterium there are 5 large paintings carried out by Robert de Longe (1693-1695) representing the stories of Sant’Antonino, the most important work of the painter in Piacenza. The altar piece portrays S. Antonino e S. Savino che venerano la reliquia della S. Spina (S.Antonino and S.Savino adoring the relic of S.Spina) while the four paintings hanging on the walls represent: Predicazione di S. Antonino (S.Antonino's preaching), Decapitazione di S. Antonino (S.Antonino's beheading), Ritrovamento (Finding) and Traslazione del corpo del Santo (Transportation of the Saint's body). In 1624, a piece representing Ultima cena (The last supper) was added to the paintings decorating "Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento"; it had been painted by the artist from Genua Bernardo Castello, upon order of Bernardo Morando, Ligurian himself and poet at the court of the Farnese Dynasty. We must mention restoration works in the 19th and 20th century; in the 20th century, they were carried out by the architect Giulio Ulisse Arata, and were remarkable for the architect's exact interpretation of the concept of analogical restoration.