Nicosia is a hamlet in the municipality of Calci near the village of Rezzano, but in reality it is not a village but an abandoned former convent.

The Monastery and Church of St Augustine in Nicosia

The complex is still imposing, so much so that it is still possible to see what the former crops of the monks who lived there were like. Crossing an old brick bridge, one arrives at the entrance consisting of a large doorway leading to the inner courtyard with a splendid orangery.

The foundation of the Monastery and the Church of St Augustine of Nicosia dates back to 1264 on the initiative of Ugo Fagiano, Bishop of Nicosia in Cyprus, who had returned to Pisa at an advanced age. The remains of its founder are preserved in the present church, before the balustrades of the presbytery. Legend has it that for the construction of the monastery, an oak tree so large that it took twelve men to embrace it had to be felled.

In 1780, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, suppressed the Augustinian monastery, but a year later the Franciscan monks arrived, who would only leave in the mid-1760s. Near the monastery, you can still see where millstones for mills and olive presses were extracted from the rock.

The Growing Nativity Scene

The church boasts one of the best-known nativity scenes in the area, known as ‘The Growing Nativity Scene‘ because it adds new characters and settings every year. Set up in 1999 and built entirely by hand, it originally had only three figures representing the deeper meaning of the Nativity: Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

Camellias in the cloister

In addition, ‘Le camelie nel chiostro’ (Camellias in the cloister) takes place here in April: from the morning, video screenings and the traditional display of cut camellias from the Calci area are set up in the church and in the convent’s lazaret. In the days preceding the festival, volunteers collect camellia flowers from the private gardens of Calci, to be displayed and catalogued at the festival.

Foto in apertura: @Ligadue – Wikimedia Commons – CC BY-SA 4.0 

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