Pelago, Italy and the castle of Pelago, and Museum of the Parish Church of San Clemente

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The Castle of Pelago and the Museum of the Parish Church of San Clemente

Pelago covers an area of the Casentino east of Florence in Tuscany, a region rich in castles and works of art. The small town is situated at the foot of the castle and its historic center is characterized by the so-called "mercatale" [marketplace] and a series of palaces which once belonged to the members of the local aristocracy.

The layout of Pelago village was originally established by the castle, with the first perimeter walls of the castle also forming the walls of the houses that were built as a protective ring around the Church of San Clemente*. On the summit above towered the "donjon", the residence of the Guidi Counts and the Cattani Lords.

* This follows the traditional construction methods of Italian fortified villages on the top of a hill, with many other examples to be found elsewhere in Italy.

Among the monuments in the historic center of Pelago you can see the Oratory of the Crucifix, dating from the 15th century century and characterized by a loggia from the 17th century. The Oratory contains a 15th century wooden crucifix attributed to the school of Donatello (1386-1466) or to Dello Delli (1404-1446)*

The most important religious building in Pelago is certainly the Church of San Clemente, inside the castle of Pelago and now home to a museum which contains works of art from the region. The churchwas here in the 12th century, but its original Romanesque structure has been lost because of the 19th century restoration works, while the bell tower dates from the 15th century.

In the Church of Saint Clemente paintings and other objects of religious art with works from churches throughout the area have been collected, including paintings, statues, altarpieces, triptychs, furniture of various kinds, decorations and objects of worship.

Among the various exhibits, we should mention in particular the crucified Christ, from the first half of the 14th century and brought here from the Oratory of Our Lady of Sorrows of Pelago, by the Tuscan School and a triptych from the first half of the 15th century by the so-called Master of Montefoscoli (15th century)*

The Museum also includes a "Nativity with St. Francis and St. Jerome," presumably of the 15th century, attributed to Sebastiano (also known as "Bastiano") Mainardi (1460-1523), who worked with Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494).

The Pelago region

The area around Pelago is characterized by the presence of ancient villages with mighty castles. Among those of particular interest are the castle of Diacceto, of which you can still see the two towers; the donjon of the castle of Ristonchi; and the castle of Altomena belonged to the Counts Guidi.

All across the region you can also see some beautiful and characteristic farmhouses. Sometimes you will notice that these have a tower - these are examples of traditional fortified rural architecture.

Just beyond the confluence of the Arno and Sieve rivers stands the Castle of Nipozzano. Here, in a beautiful landscape with taverns or restaurants, you can taste the local mountain products, of which oil and wine are the oldest and most prestigious production.

*See also history of Pelago and notes about important historical Italian artists.

Note: photo kindly submitted by Pietro G.

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

See also:

Map of Pelago and places to visit

Places to visit near Pelago

Vallombrosa

Vallombrosa

At Vallombrosa you can visit the important abbey-monastery and the 11th century Hermitage of the Paradisino

Vallombrosa guide

Montemignaio

Montemignaio

The church and castle are the highlights in Montemignaio village, Casentino

Montemignaio guide

Cetica

Cetica

In Cetica village in Tuscany you can see a medieval stone bridge and some interesting small ancient churches

Cetica guide

Castel San Niccolo

Castel San Niccolo

The historic centre of Castel San Niccolò in Tuscany is small but very picturesque and unspoiled

Castel San Niccolo guide

Stia

Stia

The quiet town of Stia has several buildings and artworks of interest to visitors

Stia guide

Fiesole

Fiesole

Just north of Florence, Fiesole has lovely views across the city and also an impressive archaeology site with Roman and Etruscan monuments

Fiesole guide