Pisan Romanesque Style in Valdera and Val di Cecina

  • Total length (km): 50

The relatively small area located in the 50 km that separate the town of Palaia from Volterra, displays examples of the different architectural styles that were developed in the Maritime Republic of Pisa around the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the period of Pisa’s maximum splendour. Pisan Romanesque architecture, with its blind arcades and diamond patterns so evident on the Duomo and other churches in the historic centre, spread all over Tuscany and of course in the Pisa territory too. We suggest two itineraries that include some of the most important outcomes of this style.
The first itinerary starts in Valdera and Val di Cecina, from Palaia and to Volterra.


Pieve di San Martino in Palaia
Founded in 1279, this church presents an interesting combination of Romanesque and Gothic elements, in particular a façade in stone characterised by Lombard band and lancet windows. The rest of the church is built in bricks. The interior is lavish, there are three naves, separated by round arches, a twelfth-century font and a hexagonal baptismal font. After this visit you can continue on to Peccioli, where the Pieve di San Verano awaits you.

Pieve di San Verano a Peccioli
The façade is striking with its empty blind arches, decorated only by typical Romanesque diamond patterns. The most important work inside was a tempera and oil painting on panel, depicting Saint Verano between two angels and six episodes from his life, that today is part of the Pinacoteca di Brera collection. The paintings by Jacopo Vignali can be still be admired in the chapel of the Assunta.
Now head about 10km west of the Pieve to explore the simple beauty of the Badia di Morrona complex.

Badia di Morrona
This abbey, founded in the eleventh century by the Order of Saint Benedict and subsequently enlarged by Count Uguccione della Gherrardesca, stands out on top of a hill surrounded by thick vegetation in the Terricciola municipality. Here reigns the peaceful atmosphere of monastic life: the church, apart from a few reconstructions, has maintained its Romanesque identity with a single nave that half way along opens up into two lateral naves, jointed by two bays, almost forming a transept. After this relaxing stop, turn south towards Val di Cecina and after 30 km you will reach Volterra, a town with multiple architectural facets, including an important Romanesque influence.

Pisan Romanesque Architecure in Volterra
Volterra preserves examples of religious and secular Romanesque architecture: we refer in particular to the Badia dei Santi Salvatore e Giusto and Palazzo dei Priori, the last stop of this itinerary exploring testimonies of a simple spirituality connected to earthly daily life that has left us great artistic results. The Camaldolese Abbey features the remains of a church with three naves, ending with an apse with small single-light windows, another typical element of Romanesque architecture. In Piazza dei Priori is a unique example of the secular Romanesque style: the thirteenth century Municipal Palace commissioned by Ildebrando Pannocchieschi and designed by Riccardo da Como. Despite the numerous transformations, the windows on the second and third floors preserve their original round-arch Romanesque structure.

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