CHURCHES AND PLACES OF WORSHIP
Collegiata of San Giovanni Battista
The Collegiate Church of Fucecchio, dedicated to San Giovanni Battista, stands in today’s Piazza Vittorio Veneto, on the site where the ancient parish church was built, established by the will of the Cadolingi counts. Already awarded the title of Collegiate, the ancient building was demolished at the end of the eighteenth century to make way for a new and larger construction. The main entrance can be reached from both Poggio Salamartano and Piazza Vittorio Veneto via a large stone staircase.
Inside, the Collegiate Church has a grandiose neoclassical Latin cross layout with side chapels. The remarkable plastic decorations and most of the furnishings, such as – in the first chapel on the right – the canvas with “Madonna and Child and two Saints” by Gaspero Martellini, the “Martyrdom of Saint Lucia” and “The Madonna” refer to the same period. del Rosario ”by Pompeo Caccini, in the first chapel on the left – the“ Madonna Enthroned with Child with Saints John the Baptist, Mark, Peter and Andrew ”.
Much venerated is the “Madonna di Piazza”, a marble high-relief depicting the Virgin and Child. Originally located on the corner of the former Palazzo di Cancelleria (Piazza Vittorio Veneto), the image was, according to tradition, a protector during the plague of 1630, receiving a dark spot on the face.
The fresco cycles by Antonio Domenico Gamberoni (1720) and Antonio Gajoni (1950-1960) are noteworthy. Other tables of significant artistic interest are now kept in the nearby Civic Museum. Under the main altar is the reliquary urn of San Candido, a work from the early 19th century, in carved and gilded wood, containing the remains of the town’s patron saint.
Chiesa of San Salvatore
Founded by Count Cadolo near the bridge over the Arno, the Church of San Salvatore is mentioned for the first time in a document from 986. Flanked around the year 1000 by a Benedictine monastery, both buildings were rebuilt on a hill near the Salamarzana castle (today’s Poggio Salamartano) following the disastrous flooding of the river in 1106. At the end of the 13th century, after the extinction of the Cadolingi lineage, the decadence followed: entrusted to the Franciscans then to the Poor Clares who still reside there.
On the outside, elements dating back to the early medieval period are still visible, such as the small side arches or the remains of mullioned windows and arches in decorated terracotta on the facade. The sturdy bell tower that rises on the rear side is also attributable to the medieval age. Renovation and expansion works that followed one another from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century gave the church its current appearance.
Inside the church, with a single wide nave according to the typical Franciscan scheme, the main altar, built in the first decade of the eighteenth century, stands out in Carrara marble. From the same period is the above painting on canvas of Christ on the cross with the Madonna, Magdalene and San Giovanni. The side altars, of Vasari style, were erected between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, but have undergone subsequent alterations. On the left side there is a wooden crucifix of valuable quality by an unknown 16th-16th century master, an object of particular veneration. Also on the left side is a rare organ from 1626 by the Lucca masters Andrea and Cosimo Ravani.
The story of the Dolorous Crucifix
The Dolorous Crucifix, after a careful restoration, has returned to its original accommodation in the monastery of San Salvatore. The sculpture, which probably dates back to the first half of the 14th century, is part of the group of “Painful” Crucifixes who wanted to inspire the faithful to reflect on the sufferings of Christ. The city of Fucecchio has a strong bond with this sculpture to which, over the centuries, numerous miracles have been attributed: the canon Giulio Taviani, in 1774, tells of the resurrection of the son of a knight from Lucca who, who died in his mother’s womb, returned to move in front of the cross.
The restorers Nicoletta Marcolongo and Angela Tascioni removed the paint, blackened over time, which the crucifix had been covered over the centuries and reconstructed the hands according to the original design.
CHURCH OF THE VIRGIN OF FERRUZZA
The graceful oratory of the Virgin is located above the source known as Ferruccia since the end of the 15th century, hence the modern location in via della Ferruzza. The source was built by the Municipality outside the Porta Nuova di Sant’Andrea at the behest of the Podestà Antonio Ferrucci sent to Fucecchio by Lorenzo Il Magnifico in the six months of March-September 1473. Above the source a tabernacle was built with the figure of the Virgin which was also called ‘it Ferruccia. According to documents, on January 3, 1503, the eve of the feast of Santa Cristiana, the Virgin began to perform miracles “ditti virgo incepit facere miracula”. Since then, an oratory called the Church was built around the image of the Virgin in 1533. In 1548, the day dedicated to the Virgin Ferruccia became a holiday.
The church was under the patronage of the Municipality which for a long time promoted its conservation until, at the end of the eighteenth century, it passed to the Chapter of the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista by whose priests it is still officiated.
The exterior is preceded by a small but elegant loggia and a staircase that descends to the ancient wash houses. Inside, the valuable fresco depicting “Madonna and Child Enthroned, San Giovanni Battista and Sant’Antonio Abate”, executed in the summer of 1473, has recently been attributed to Filippino, through the documents of the Historical Archive of the Municipality of Fucecchio. Lippi who was very young at the time. The work, which reproduces the stylistic features of the schools of Filippo Lippi, father of Filippino, and Sandro Botticelli, a disciple of his father and his teacher, was restored in 1946. Already in 1800 the fresco was attributed to the school of Filippo Lippi. Before the restoration, only the figure of the Madonna and Child was visible since the Saints were framed in a painting depicting San Giovanni Battista and San Benedetto, preserved in the Civic Museum.
SANCTUARY OF THE MADONNA DELLE VEDUTE
Built in the first half of the 1700s for expansion of the oratory of San Rocco outside the walls, the church is now located in via Dante and takes its name from the image of the Madonna that was moved there in 1730 from the locality “Le Vedute”, in the woods of the Cerbaie. Placed on the main altar and repainted several times, the image is framed in a “triumph” of angels and cherubs, a Baroque work by an anonymous sculptor who was inspired by the Berninian decoration of the chair of St. Peter. According to tradition, the work was frescoed in the thirteenth century within a tabernacle erected to show the way to travelers. Various miracles have been attributed to the image, object of popular veneration.
The facade acquired its current appearance in 1911 when it underwent a radical restoration. The central nave dates back to the mid-1700s, when the ancient oratory was radically renovated to house the image of the Madonna delle Vedute. The two aisles were instead added in the nineteenth century.
CHURCH AND CONVENT OF THE VIRGIN
The church and the convent of the Virgin were built at the beginning of the seventeenth century in the place called “alle Cinque Vie”, at the intersection of important communication roads (today Piazza La Vergine). Here there had been a small oratory for some time where the “Compagnia della carità”, a brotherhood devoted to the Virgin and her image, was established. In the wake of a general devotion also favored by the Medici themselves, this was able to obtain from the Grand Duke the consent to erect a convent for the Franciscan Fathers and to rebuild, by enlarging it, the church. By 1631 the building was now completed, although the work continued with the construction of the bell tower (1632), the cloister (1638-1660) and cells for the friars.
On the facade, preceded by a portico with four lights, the Medici coat of arms is visible above the large window and the lobed windows. Under the portico there are three lunettes and four niches with the Via Crucis, the latter frescoed by Alberico Carlini, also author of the paintings in the cloister.
The interior has a single nave with stone side altars from the seventeenth century. On the walls of the presbytery there are two canvases from the second half of the nineteenth century depicting the miracles attributed to St. Theophilus, whose relics are kept inside the church itself. The organ built in 1825 by Benedetto Tronci of Pistoia was transferred to the choir with double-tiered stalls from 1691.
The large cloister, decorated with twenty-four lunettes with stories of St. Francis executed in the first half of the 1700s by Father Alberico Carlini, has been the subject of a careful restoration that has brought it back to its original appearance. On the wall to the right of the entrance is the tomb of Giuseppe Montanelli, a Tuscan triumvir and protagonist of the Risorgimento (1813-1862)
SANCTUARY OF SANTA MARIA ALLA QUERCE
The history of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria alla Querce, located at the northern limit of the municipality of Fucecchio, in via delle Cellina, has remote origins although little known today. Already in the Middle Ages there was a church, dedicated to the martyr Nazario, located lower than the current parish church, of which we can already find records starting from 866; but it was only at the beginning of the seventeenth century that this place, hidden in the woods of the Cerbaie, experienced a new season, becoming a place of Marian worship.
An image on an oak and a source of water give rise to a story of faith that has come down to our days. But then a legend was superimposed on the story and the Cellina, the name of the small sanctuary built on the source, will become the place of apparition of the Madonna.