Associazione Strutture ExtraAlberghiere di San Gimignano
The Church of San Lorenzo in Ponte
This church is in Via del Castello, very close to the former Monastery of St Dominic, once the Bishop’s Castle and the earliest nucleus of the town. It was built in Romanesque style in 1240. The gallery was closed in 1561 to turn it into an oratory. The church’s name (St Lawrence by the Bridge) derives from the fact that it was built near the drawbridge of the Bishop’s Castle. Inside there is a cycle of frescoes with Stories of St Benedict and, at the bottom, a great fresco with the Glory of Christ, the Virgin and the 12 Apostles by Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni, dated around 1413.
The Church of San Bartolo
The Romanesque Church of San Bartolo is In Via San Matteo, after Palazzo della Cancelleria. A local saint who died in 1299 while looking after lepers in the lazaretto of Cellole, Bartolo later had a famous chapel dedicated to him in the church of Sant’Agostino. The brick façade, built in 1173, has an elegant series of blind arches set in two orders of different size and standing on half-columns.
The main door architrave is decorated with the characteristic Greek cross of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem who later became the order of the Knights of Malta, Between the 11th and 12th centuries, when it was part of the quarter that was developing to the north, outside the first circle of city walls, it was dedicated to San Matteo. In the same way and for the same reason the present church of San Francesco, in the southern area of the town, was then called San Giovanni and gave its name to the quarter in which it was located.
Church of Sant’Agostino
The style recalls the gothic: nave only, culminating in a presbytery on which the choir and two side chapels open up. The church of Sant’Agostino contains an immense heritage of magnificently beautiful works of art. On entering you immediately notice the Altar of San Vincenzo, a 1494 work by Francesco Fiorentino. Above the altar-piece, the Pieta fresco is by Vincenzo Tamagni. At the farthermost part of the church the Chapel of San Bartolo stands out with its marble altar sculpted by Benedetto da Maiano. Continuing, you will note a Pieta painted by Bartolo di Fredi, then the Altar of San Niccolò da Tolentino, frescoed in 1529 by Vincenzo Tamagni. Proceeding towards the altar you will see the dominating altar-piece by Piero del Pollaiolo – The Crowning of the Virgin – dating to 1483. On the right, facing the main altar, the Chapel of the Nativity, frescoed by Bartolo di Fredi. The altar-piece is the work of Vincenzo Tamagni. Going from the chapel to the choir you’ll discover a marvellous cycle of frescoes by Benozzo Bozzoli who spent no less than three years in their execution, from 1463 to 1465. They depict the life of St Augustine and are of a unique beauty, as is the church which is dedicated to the Saint. Leaving the choir you enter the other chapel and go back down into the presbytery where, on the right, there is a fresco of San Gimignano by Sebastiano Mainardi. Continuing on you’ll find the Altar of Our Lady of Graces which begins a fresco by Lippo Memmi dating to 1330. The pulpit was built in 1524 and the paintings are by Vincenzo Tamagni. Lastly, after the pulpit, note the St Sebastian painted by Benozzo Bozzoli in 1464. Before leaving the church you are recommended to visit its enchanting and peaceful cloister.
Church of San Pietro in Forliano
In the enchanting Piazza Sant’Agostino you will also find the little church of San Pietro, popularly known as the church of San Piero. It is one of the oldest in San Gimignano (12th century). Its simple brickwork façade is lightened by the terracotta corbels of the cornice and a single, sober rosette above the entrance door, preceded by a series of four staircases in stone. Small and Romanesque, the interior is nave only with a raised presbytery, truss ceiling and the walls rich in original frescoes such as the one of the Virgin hand in hand with the infant Jesus, between St Peter and St John the Baptist. Many have attributed it to Lippo Memmi. On the main altar, a 1531 painting attributed to the Florentine school.
The Church of San Girolamo
The little church of San Girolamo (St Jerome) stands just before the Templar church of San Jacopo in Via Folgore da San Gimignano, near the Convent of the Enclosed Benedictine Nuns. The church is nave only with a grating that divides the enclosed part and the altar decorated with a fine painting by Vincenzo Tamagni depicting the Virgin Enthroned with the Child and saints Giovanni Gualberto, Benedict, John the Baptist and Jerome. Inside the convent, not open to the public, there are 16th century Florentine school frescoes.
Remains of the Church of San Francesco
The remains of the ancient church of the Monastery of San Francesco are on the right in Via San Giovanni. Set between two brick houses, the fine façade in white travertine is broken by dark, horizontal lines of serpentine recalling the Pisan style. Above the door there is a double arch enclosing the symbol of the Knights Templars. We are given some idea of the severe beauty of this Franciscan order church which had formerly been the home of that rich order of soldier-monks whose duty was to defend the Holy Sepulchre. It was also used as a hostel for pilgrims and wayfarers on Via Francigena.
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