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in The Hearth of Chianti,
in The Hearth of Chianti,
Museum of Sacred ArtThe Montespertoli Museum of Sacred Art was inaugurated in 1996. The museum’s patrimony of works comes from the parish church of San Pietro in Mercato, and from its suffragans as well as from the churches of the other two parishes.
The coincidence between a large part of the parishes’ territory and that of the current Commune of Montespertoli, has led to organizing the works on the basis of the individual parishes, considering the ancient ecclesiastical groupings as autonomous historical-cultural realities, thus displaying in the same place paintings, silver works, wooden furnishing coming from the same churches, but having set up for conservation reasons (light and climate) a special section for paraments and manuscripts.
The first hall of the tour, the so-called Salone, is dedicated to the parish of San Pietro in Mercato.
Here are displayed, next to the works coming from the parish church and tied to its ancient patrons, the Machiavellis, paintings, silver works and furnishings from San Lorenzo a Montegufoni, under the patronage of the Acciaioli family (the Madonna with Child by Lippo di Benivieni, a 13th century gemellion, Roman silverworks donated by Cardinal Niccolò Acciaioli), but also from now-vanished small churches.
The museum’s second room, called the “green room” because of its wall color, is devoted entirely to the churches of Santa Maria a Torre and of San Bartolomeo a Tresanti, with paintings, silver works and furnishings from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The third hall, called the “yellow room” for the color of the fake yellow tapestry, exhibits works from the parishes of Santa Maria a Coeli Aula and San Pancrazio, among which is noted the Madonna with Child by Filippo Lippi and a rare baptismal font in sculpted marble from the mid-12th century.
The hall of paraments and manuscripts is further evidence of this area’s wealth and also of the Museum’s vitality with a recent acquisition – in 2000 – of a 1456 manuscript, Rituale per la benedizione del fonte battesimale del sabato santo ( Ritual for the Consecration of the Baptismal Font on Holy Saturday), linked to Francesco Machiavelli.
Museum of Sacred Art, Montespertoli (Florence) - Tuscany - Italy
Pieve di S. Piero in Mercato, Via S. Piero in Mercato
Ph: +39 0571 609500
This work comes from the Church of Sant’Andrea a Botinaccio, in the Commune of Montespertoli, and is dated from the early 1440’s. This panel deals with the well-known iconography of the Madonna with Child in a particular way.
It confers on the painting a great compositional simplicity and a sense of everyday domestic life without diminishing the sacredness of the image. The sacred quality is achieved by an exceptionally transparent rendering of the halos and the intensity of the figures’ gaze. Mary is framed by a niche with a marked geometric structure.
Her face, foreseeing the fate of her son, is pervaded by a sense of absorbed melancholy as she props her son’s head on a pillow of precious fabric. The Child is wrapped completely in swaddling clothes, according to the custom of the time.
HISTORY of MONTESPERTOLI
The Montespertoli area has always been directly involved in the history of Florence.
In ancient times, the Etruscans inhabited these lands, but Latin place names (Coeli Aula, Montagnana, Poppiano etc…) are mostly reminiscent of the numerous Roman settlements that flourished here.
The presence of the Romans is confirmed by the abundance of archaeological findings, among which memorial stones in Santa Maria a Torre, in Ortimino, and in San Piero in Mercato.
The Lombard invasions were the first step towards the creation of present-day Tuscany, the 'Tuscia Longobardorum' opposed to the 'Tuscia Romanorum'.
During this period, in fact, local populations developed a road system that suited the features of the local lands, which have a geographical conformation that includes valleys interconnected by means of important roads.
The scarcity of medieval archaeological relics does not provide specific references for all the villages, but at that time Lucardo must certainly have been one of the main settlements in the area, as well as the most significant village around Montespertoli owned by the Nonantola abbey.
The Franks were replaced by the Lombards and a slow but ongoing process led to the creation of the characteristic political setup of the feudal period. Tuscany became one of the first marquisates in Italy, reaching the peak of its power before the year 1000 thanks to the Marquis Hugh of Tuscany (888 - 962), but already in the second half of the 11th century local towns started to strive for independence.
This was due to the development of new social classes such as the bourgeoisie, which would later lead to the birth of the form of local administration known as Commune or City State.
The Papacy and the Empire were the most influential political forces in the Middle Ages and all the big feoffees bore allegiance to either of the two. Meanwhile, the towns' autonomist tendencies became stronger and stronger and their power extended to the surrounding countryside, at the expense of the feoffees.
The 12th century was dominated by the struggle between feudalism and the bourgeoisie of the city states, which was the starting point for the creation of new rural communities, eager to redefine the relationships with landowners in order to be granted the participation in the government of their own communities and less unfavourable terms to regulate their farming activities.
The birth of the Municipality of Montespertoli occurred within the framework of the struggle between the feudal lords and the Florentine republic, which since the beginning of the 12th century had fought for its independence, liberating itself from the imperial influence represented by the marquises of Tuscany.
Some of the feudal lords decided to move into the towns, accepting the new course of history and taking on public duties in the Republic, but others kept fighting until the final defeat inflicted upon them by the Florentine army.
The fall of the Alberti Counts and the handing over of the Pogni and Semifonte castles marked the start of a different evolution.
As soon as villages freed themselves from feudal lordship, they united in small autonomous federations, called "populi", which were under the civil jurisdiction of Florence but were so proud of their independence and of their ancient origins that, instead of referring to the city's authorities, they exclusively referred to the local parish church and its parish priest, sometimes replaced by magistrates called "rectors", elected by the citizens of each single community.
Churches were the centers of religious life, but they were also used for public assemblies, thus taking on the true role of 'Pieve' (parish church), a word which derives from the term plebs, the people's church.
The 'Piviere' was therefore the original and first form of rural municipality in the Florentine countryside around the 13th century. Later, some 'pivieri' joined together and formed the so-called "leghe di popolo" or "leghe comunali" (people's leagues or city state leagues).
The first league in the Montespertoli area derived from the union of the 'pivieri' San Piero in Mercato, San Pancrazio, and Coeli Aula, and took on the name of the first Church that was the Podestà's residence. The league had as its coat-of-arms the keys of the parish church of 'San Piero', together with the lily symbolizing the allegiance to the Lega da Firenze (League of Florence) and the star, indicating the long-established authority of the Alberti Counts in the area.