Capolona, Italy and the frescoed parish churches of Casentino

Photo of Capolona (Tuscany region)

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Visit Capolona

The town of Capolona and the surrounding Casentino region of Tuscany has an ancient history that is very interesting to visitors. Although other historic monuments including castles can be seen here the history is best seen in the parish churches and a small knowledge of the history of these churches makes a visit even more enjoyable.

Capolona & Casentino: the Parish Churches and their Art

In recent years there have been great attempts to enhance the mountain territory of Capolona which is rich in ancient Parish Churches of great artistic value. This is important because the Parish Church played an important role in the Christianization of the countryside, which was before then for the most part pagan*.

* During the VII-VIII centuries there was an intense process of conversion of the Lombards and the rural populations. This led to the creation of many Parish churches, a system that marked the rural organization of the Church throughout the Middle Ages.

Church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Sietina

Near the river Arno you can see the Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Sietina, built in the early 11th century along an ancient Roman road. The name Sietina is derived from the Etruscan word ‘Satres’ [= Saturn], so it is thought that a pagan worship dedicated to Saturn was held here in Etruscan and Roman times (A. Tafi, “Le antiche pievi: madri vegliarde del popolo aretino”, Calosci, 1998, p. 160).

The parish church of Sietina lies outside the 'Barbaritana Land' on the right bank of the Arno, and has three naves and three apses. Of particular interest is the interior which is completely covered with frescoes dating from 1370-1380 and attributed to an anonymous 'Master of Pieve a Sietina', a pupil of Spinello di Luca* [1352-1410].

Among the notable works in the church of Sietina are those called "St. Catherine of Alexandria", "St. Christopher", the “Madonna and Child” and “San Antonio Abate". To the left of the church the" Madonna Enthroned", by an unknown author and dating from 1348, also stands out.

Parish Church of San Giovanni

Also notable is the Parish Church of San Giovanni, also known as the Parish of San Giovanni “in Sulpiciano” or “at Capolona” and so named because it was once a possession of the "gens Sulpicia" people. The noble Roman families called 'gens Sulpicia' had many relations with Arezzo and many estates ('praedia') in the area of Arezzo.

The Parish Church of San Giovanni is very old, dating from the tenth century: Eugenio Gamurrini wrote that "around 1000 AD, Teuzzo, Lord of Sassello, gave the church of San Giovanni to the monastery of St. Fiora and the church, founded after the Lombard occupation, became a parish church, forming its parish with some churches taken from the Church of Sietina".

The church was rebuilt in 1202 in Romanesque style and consecrated by Bishop Amedeo. Outside it has a typical Romanesque façade, while inside there are works of art of historical and artistic importance. In particular these include a large painting representing the "Baptism of Christ", attributed to Giovanni Battista Biondi (18th century), a pupil of Salvi Castellucci (1608-1672), and his father Pietro (1653-1710).

Parish Church of San Martino sopr'Arno

Close to Capolona the Parish Church of San Martino sopr'Arno is also of great charm and antiquity. It was rebuilt on the plan of a Greek cross which radically transformed the structure of the more ancient church. The medieval structure is still visible in the side wall, the semi-circular apse and in the ruins of the right side.

Church of San Michele Arcangelo in Castelluccio

Finally we mention the church of San Michele Arcangelo in Castelluccio that holds an art work of considerable interest, a wooden group of the Madonna and Child, spoiled a little by repaintings in the Romanesque style, perhaps from the nearby Abbey of Capolona.

Capolona region

All of these ancient churches are surrounded by a landscape of hills, water, vineyards and olive groves, a real “artistic” landscape. Visitors will discover a natural landscape of great charm, where history, art and nature come together perfectly. There are also several other interesting historical monuments in the area such as castles, including the Castle of Valenzano.

The history of the region can also be discovered in the ancient popular traditions, best seen at the various festivals dedicated to local products such as the "Chestnut Festival", the "Feast of the trout" and also the "Festival of the ‘tortello’" and various initiatives of the "Ecomuseum of the Casentino", also dedicated to local products.

See also history of Capolona and early Italian painters. Photo kindly submitted by Pietro G.

Where is Capolona?

The territory of Capolona is located in the Valdarno, on the southern slopes of Pratomagno, in the Casentino region, and within the Arezzo province of Tuscany.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Casentino guide and the Tuscany guide.

See also:

Map of Capolona and places to visit

Places to visit near Capolona

Arezzo

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Arezzo guide

Bibbiena

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Anghiari

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Anghiari guide

Raggiolo

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Raggiolo guide

Poppi

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Cetica

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