Lo Scheggia and Mariotto di Cristofano in Valdarno

lo Scheggia e Mariotto di Cristofano in Valdarno

San Giovanni Valdarno, originally called San Giovanni in Altura then Castel San Giovanni, was founded by the Florentines in 1299 on a project that, traditionally, is attributed to the great architect Arnolfo di Cambio. The itinerary begins in Corso Italia, the central street, flanked by elegant medieval and Renaissance buildings, one of which, at number 83, was the home of the family of the great Valdarno artist, Masaccio.
From Corso Italia, continue until you reach the large divided square, inside, in two other small squares, Piazza Masaccio and Piazza Cavour. At the center of this huge rectangle stands the elegant Palazzo Pretorio , now Palazzo del Municipio, medieval, remodeled several times, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. Of the ancient building, surrounded by a portico, the façade is adorned with many coats of arms in stone and terracotta, in the manner of the Robbia family. Going along the left side of piazza Masaccio you can see the church of San Lorenzo (XIV century), with a stone and brick facade. Recent renovations inside have brought to light remarkable and interesting parts of fresco that have allowed to know and deepen the pictorial activity of the Scheggia in his natìa San Giovanni.

In the right aisle Martirio di San Sebastiano, Sant'Antonio Abate enthroned and ten episodes of his life, San Lorenzo, Stigmata di San Francesco and in the left aisle Sant'Antonio da Padova and San Bernardino da Siena . On the high altar, an elegant triptych by Giovanni del Biondo (Florence, documented since 1356, died in 1398) representing the Coronation of the Virgin and Saints (1374 circa).
Leaving the church, still on the left, is the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie , built at the end of the fifteenth century with the imposing facade of the nineteenth century overlooking the bottom side of Piazza Masaccio. In the lunette Our Lady gives the girdle to St. Thomas the Apostle, with Saints John the Baptist and Lorenzo , glazed terracotta by Giovanni della Robbia (about 1513). The interior, very large, contains within a sixteenth century tabernacle, a fresco depicting the Madonna delle Grazie, attributed to a Florentine painter of the '300.
From the church the itinerary continues inside the Museum of the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie which houses works by artists including Lo Scheggia, Mariotto di Cristofano, Giovanni da Piamonte, Domenico di Michelino, Jacopo del Sellaio, Fra Angelico and Giovanni Mannozzi called Giovanni da San Giovanni .
Di Giovanni di Ser Giovanni called the Scheggia can be admired two paintings on wood: Madonna with Child (1440-1450) originally in the church of San Lorenzo in San Giovanni Valdarno and a tempera on panel depicting a Chorus of Angels Musicians , part of organ from the sacristy of the Oratory of San Lorenzo (1440-1450).
In the same museum we can see two works by the Valdarnese painter Mariotto di Cristofano , Christus patiens between the Virgin and Saint Lucia (1420-1425) (originally in the church of Santa Lucia di San Giovanni Valdarno) and a Madonna with Child and Saints (1453) coming from the church of San Lorenzo.
Visited the museum, crossed Piazza Masaccio, you reach Piazza Cavour . Opposite the entrance to Palazzo d'Arnolfo is the Parish Church of San Giovanni Battista of the first half of the 14th century. The façade is preceded by a portico built on the back and adorned with Robbiani rounds.
If you still have a few minutes to devote to the city, we recommend a visit to the chapel of the Augustinian monastery to admire one of the most beautiful tables of the Master of the Nativity of Castello , Madonna and Child (XV century).
Leaving San Giovanni Valdarno, the itinerary leads us to Castelfranco di Sopra and in particular to the former Vallombrosana Abbey of Soffena , along one of the most characteristic roads of the Arno Valley, the SP 1 commonly known as the " Strada dei Setteponti "
The building, a Greek cross, dating from the fourteenth century, preserves, in addition to frescoes by Bicci di Lorenzo, Liberato da Rieti and Paolo Schiavo, a valuable Annunciation by Giovanni di Ser Giovanni called the Scheggia and a Madonna with Child enthroned between San Lazzaro and San Michele Arcangelo of Mariotto di Cristofano.

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