The Confraternity of the Annunziata was one of the most important and wealthy of the time (XVIII century).
The well-to-do merchants of the village and the most prominent families adhered to it.
Having substantial income, the confreres, conforming to the new civil and religious fervor that had invested Canelli and had brought qualified workers not only from Asti but from Milan and from Ticino, decided to build a new church whose works ended in 1731.
On the current square, there was an ancient oratory, seat of the Confraternita delle Umiliate, and a small church that already hosted the Confraternity of the Annunziata in the 15th century.
The buildings were partly demolished and partly incorporated into the new "factory" which turned out to be impressive and grandiose enough to rival the two parishes. While the previous buildings had entrances on the “sternia” the new church had the front on the square of St. Tommaso, recently built, with clear intention to enrich it scenographically according to the then prevailing urban canons.
The strong difference in height of the ground required a considerable elevation of the façade to align it with the apse.
The entrance was thus connected to the square with a high terrace that can be reached by means of a staircase that originally might have had to be more grandiose, scenically balancing the construction to the underlying churchyard.
Elegant and slender, it is a fine example of Baroque architecture inspired by the models of Asti. The side walls are slightly concave and connected to the central body by scrolls turned downwards. The pilasters that start from the lower area and continue in the upper one accentuate its elevation. Double-curved tympanum harmoniously crowns the whole.
Baroque portal is framed by stuccos that enhance the most visible style in the decoration of the “window” and the fresco that overhang it. The two side niches complete the chiaroscuro rhythm accentuating the movement. It is perhaps the most architecturally successful religious building for its proportions, for its style and for its relations with the environment.
The plant has an inverted Latin cross. The rectangular entrance is surmounted by a tribune for the organ and the choir that covers the counter-façade. Beside the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, once very revered by the Canellesi so much to identify the church itself that today is more known as the “Addolorata” and comes from the church of S. Giovanni Decollato.
The single nave extends to the sides giving rise to two Chapels (one on each side) raised by three steps giving the whole a sense of ample space enhanced at the top by a false dome.
The altars of the lateral chapels, from the mid-eighteenth century, are excellent works in pure rococo style stucco, performed by the skilled workers who were active in those years in the church of S. Marzano Oliveto. Right altar is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Good Counsel, the one on the left, dedicated to St. Caterina di Siena, was from the Compagnia delle Umiliate.
• Presbytery and choir
Very deep longitudinally, it contains the eighteenth-century stucco altar and marble from the suppressed church of S. Giovanni Decollato. On the sides two doors give access to the rooms used as sacristy.
The choir, with wooden stalls, is very spacious because it was once customary to use it by the Brotherhoods for meetings. In the central wall of the apse, one can still admire an eighteenth-century Annunciation altarpiece.
The whole church was frescoed but the ancient decoration was replaced, at the beginning of the century, by frescoes crowned by the “Last Judgment” of the “dome”. The author, most of the work, is Giovanni Olindo, a Canelli painter.
• Bell tower
Although tampered with it is medieval. The upper part was restored in 1935, but the octagonal cusp attests its ancient origin.
The building, no longer used for sacred functions, but not deconsecrated, still has discrete static conditions, but leaning against the hill of Villanuova, suffers from devastating moisture infiltrations.