The parish of Saints John the Baptist and Peter the Apostle in Calcinaia, already documented in the year 883, was the baptismal church for the villages in the area, including Pontedera and Bientina. There is no visible trace left of the ancient church that stood southwest of the current Piazza Indipendenza, as in the mid-16th century, a significant part of the structure was swallowed by the waters diverted by the new course of the Arno River.

The interior

©Marco Taliani

The current church, reconstructed in 1790 according to the design by the engineer Giovanni Andreini, has a single nave and three apsidal chapels. One of these chapels houses the relics of the patron saint, Santa Ubaldesca Taccini, highly venerated by the population. The month of May is dedicated to her with religious celebrations (procession and masses) and popular events (Sagra della Nozza and historical regatta). Of particular interest are the eighteenth-century wooden chancel and an altarpiece depicting the Madonna enthroned with saints (1599), originating from the nearby church of San Michele. After the destruction of the ancient parish, it had served as the parish church until 1789. In the left side chapel, there are two terracotta angels holding torches from the school of Andrea Della Robbia, and the tomb of Lodovico Coccapani (1849-1931), to whom the Museum of Ceramics is dedicated.

On the altar of the right nave, the revered image of the Madonna del Rifugio is preserved, along with a seventeenth-century altarpiece depicting Saint Francis of Assisi, attributed to the school of Domenico Cigoli.

Who was Saint Ubaldesca Taccini?

(Born in Calcinaia in 1136 – Died in Pisa on May 28, 1206) Born to humble parents in Calcinaia, Ubaldesca, from a young age, was diligent in the practice of prayer, often accompanied by fasting and charity towards the poor. She joined the Jerusalemite Order of Saint John (established a few years earlier in 1099 in Jerusalem) and at the age of 15, she left Calcinaia for Pisa, stopping at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (built in the 12th century by the architect Diotisalvi).

Throughout her life, Ubaldesca practiced humility and charity in the monastery and the “Spedale,” mortifying her body with intense and prolonged fasting. The Pisan saint worked miracles during her lifetime, and after her death on May 28, 1206, the feast of the Holy Trinity, healings associated with her name multiplied.

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