St. Nicholas church in Assenza was first built probably in the 11th or early 12th century in honour of the holy bishop of Mira, protector of seafarers. The name of the church first appears in a document issued by Pope Adrian IV in 1159 containing the list of chapels belonging to district head church (pieve) of Malcesine. The shape of original chapel must have been quite different from what we see today. On the basis of very limited historical evidence we can infer that it must have been similar to many other Romanesque chapels built around the lake area, whit a hut-like façade, a single nave and a semicircular apse. The chapel was first enlarged towards the east and in the course of the 15th century also west and southward in line with the bell tower. In more recent times the façade was given the present appearance with a door and a window in neogothic style.
Two 14th century gothic arches and a single nave, which narrows towards the bell tower and ends into a rectangular choir area with the main altar at the center, characterize the interior. The paintings on the 15th century altarpiece include a Madonna with child, St. Nicholas and St. Anthony the Abbot, the farmers’ patron.
At the southern wall there is a 17th century altar dedicated to St. Francis. The painting on its altarpiece shows St. Francis receiving the Stigmata (the Lord’s wounds). In the northern wall there is a small Romanesque style door which once led to the adjacent small cemetery.
The nave’s ceiling in rein forced with open trusses while a double ribbed vault with gothic sails protects the choir area. The church inner walls are decorated with late 12th century frescoes (notice the fragment depicting The last Supper).
One of the frescoes, however, was completed in 1322 as shown by the date written next to St. Michael’s image on the northern wall.
On the same northern wall, from west to east, we find 13th century frescoes depicting: The Face of Our Lady of Mercy; St. Michael and St. John the Evangelist; St. martin of Tours and the beggar; Saints Steven, Zeno and Bartholomew; St. Zeno, St. Anne, the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus, the Crucifixion of Our Lord, Sts. Benigno, Nicholas, Caro, Anthony, the Abbot and James the Elder.
Restoration work on the southern wall, which was completed in 1998, returned to life the beauty of more frescoes. Going from east to west we see the Archangels Michael and Gabriel with St. Bartholomew, and St. Lucy.
Lastly, on the half crest of the second arch, there is a late 14th or early 15th century panel with paintings of the Virgin Mary on a throne with the Child Jesus, flanked by St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Lawrence.