Arriving from Corso Vecchio, in the heart of the historic centre of Terni, and turning towards Vico San Lorenzo, you find yourself face-to-face with a broad Romanesque facade, shaped by a gable roof at the top and built of light-coloured bricks with two portals – one dating back to the 16th century – and two small triple-lancet windows. But the unitary ‘facade’ of the Chiesa di S. Lorenzo conceals a dual identity. Internally, in fact, the building is divided into two naves dating back to different eras and with different histories. The left aisle is very old and seems to have originated in the 13th century on the ruins of a domus or a Roman temple. This is actually the original layout of the church, as evidenced from information held in the Rationes decimarum of the time, that is, the parish register in which the taxes collected by the ecclesiastical bodies were noted. This part of the church came to light and was restored in the early 20th century, during excavations for restructuring work after a lengthy period of neglect. The pavement bears traces of mosaics, probably from the Roman age, and the area that today stands below the apse was probably a central part of the old 14th-century church, which was flanked by two small naves. With a little imagination, we can mentally reconstruct the original appearance of this church, taking inspiration from the ancient columns and their basements. Above one of these, remains of an altar are still visible, where depictions of pagan divinities were placed.
The right nave is clearly more recent. Having been added in the 17th century, it is placed at a higher level than the one on the left and is completely plastered. As with many of Terni’s churches, bombings during WWII did not spare the Church of S. Lorenzo, which, by a twist of fate, capitulated under enemy fire on the morning of 11th August 1943. Parts of the church collapsed including the roof, the right side and the upper part of the apse. Reconstruction, led by the bishop in charge, aimed to restore its pre-bomb-damaged appearance, without introducing further changes.
Noteworthy works in this church include a 17th-century painting located on the first altar to the left depicting the Martyrdom of St. Biagio, tentatively attributed to the Rieti painter Vincenzo Manenti, and an 18th century statue of the Virgin dressed in precious fabrics.