The Pieve di San Pietro a Pitiana: A Romanesque Treasure in the Tuscan Countryside

Nestled in the quiet Tuscan countryside, along the ancient Via Cassia, is the Pieve di San Pietro a Pitiana, in the municipality of Reggello. This church, of Romanesque origin, is an architectural and historical jewel, preserving inside two paintings by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio dating from the 16th century. The 16th-century portico and a plaque commemorating the composition of “Theologia Platonica” by Marsilio Ficino (1469-1474) add to the charm of this place of worship.

Probably founded before the year 1000, the parish is mentioned in historical documents as early as 1028. By the 13th century, Pitiana Parish had ten suffragan churches, demonstrating its importance in the region. The bell tower, which already existed in 1128, is thought to have originally had a defensive function.

During the 14th century, Blessed John of the Cells was imprisoned here to atone for a grave fault. During the 16th century, the church underwent major transformations, including the construction of the portico and the adoption of the Latin cross structure in 1631. The central rose window, which dates from this period, gives the facade a distinctive character.

The interior of the church, after restoration in 1888, now has a single nave, but preserves in the masonry the remains of the original three-nave layout with pillars. The bell tower, with two rows of mullioned and single-lancet windows, is an architectural feature of great interest. Inside, two panels attributed to Ghirlandaio’s school can be seen: the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and the Madonna and Child with St. Benedict and St. Augustine. Also of significant interest is the tabernacle made of pietra serena, dating from around 1300.

The Pieve di Pitiana is also linked to a fascinating story of artistic recovery: in 1991, an altarpiece attributed to Ghirlandaio, depicting the Madonna of the Rosary with Child and Saints John and Augustine, was recovered by the Carabinieri after a three-year search. The work, which had been sold illegally in 1946, was found in an antiques store in Florence.

The church’s rather sober facade is preceded by a 16th-century loggia supported by four columns, while the coats of arms of the Cavalcanti and Santa Maria Nuova date from the previous century. From the churchyard, visitors can enjoy a magnificent view of the Valdarno, making the Pieve di San Pietro a Pitiana a must-see for those visiting Reggello and its surroundings.

Visits to the parish church are possible upon request and subject to availability, offering an intimate and evocative experience of one of Tuscany’s hidden treasures.