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  7. Church of Saints Michele and Adriano

Church of Saints Michele and Adriano

The Church of Saints Michele and Adriano stands along Corso Italia, the ancient Borgo Maestro, in the small square of the same name. The building was presumably constructed in the Lombard era, around the VIII century.

The first official documents mentioning the church of “San Michele de Plateola” date back to the XI century. In 1095, it was already listed as a dependency of the Camaldolese monks together with the small adjoining monastery, but since the Middle Ages it also performed the function of a parish, the boundaries of which were established in 1150. At that time it was remodelled in Romanesque forms.

In the first half of the fourteenth century, the building was extended and modified in the Gothic style, and in the years that followed it was enriched with chapels, frescoes and other works of art. In the early fifteenth century, it also received the title of abbey.

The sixteenth century was a period of gradual decline, but in the second half of the century, restoration work was carried out and the new monastery cloister was built. By that time, San Michele had already been joined to Santa Maria in Gradi, the Camaldolese church par excellence in the city.

In 1652, the monastic building was closed, the monks moved out and only the parish remained. On 17 August 1786, the dedication to St Michael was added to that of St Adrian. In fact, Bishop Niccolò Marcacci signed a decree to transfer the title and the parish territory of the suppressed Church of St Hadrian, located in the area of the small square of the same name along today’s Via Roma, to the church.

In the first decades of the nineteenth century, a neoclassical-style pronaos with four columns, pediment and tympanum was painted on the exterior façade. The decorations were removed by the interventions of the early 1930s based on a design by Giuseppe Castellucci, who gave the now dilapidated sacred place a neo-Gothic façade, embellished with a mosaic above the portal with “Christ the King between Saints Michael and Adrian”, inaugurated in 1934 to a design by Giovanni Bassan.

The interior, with a single nave, is the result of the latest renovation that restored a fascinating Romanesque-Gothic combination. Despite the loss of the fourteenth-century altars, the church is still rich in works of art and signs of the various eras. On the counter façade, for example, one can see the portal and the XII century single lancet window, both of which have been filled in.

Running along the left side, we encounter a detached fresco of the “Virgin and Child” from the second half of the XIV century, attributed to Andrea di Nerio, although some art historians believe it to be the early work of his apprentice Spinello Aretino. On the left there is a small “Crucifixion” of the Spinello school from the last years of the fourteenth century, the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” on wood from 1941 by Aldo Dragoni, and a wooden “Crucifix” from the end of the seventeenth century, the work of an anonymous Tuscan but Nordic-influenced artist. The wall ends with the neo-Gothic side altar, which houses the 1940 altarpiece by Aldo Dragoni depicting the three Carmelites “St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Teresa Margaret Redi”. The latter, a Carmelite nun, was born in 1747 a short distance from the square.

On the high altar is the panel painting by Neri di Bicci, an exponent of a prolific Florentine workshop, dated 1466 and commissioned by abbot Giovanni da Partina. The work depicts the “Madonna and Child Enthroned between Saints Benedict, Michael, John the Baptist and Romualdo”. At the feet of the figures is a “Crucifixion” with genuflected angels in prayer.

To the left of the altar is the weathervane of the facade spire, demolished in 1969 by the weather, while to the right, above the entrance to the sacristy, is a “Madonna and Child”, an eighteenth-century sculpture of the Neapolitan school, the result of a donation.

On the right wall returning towards the entrance, in succession, we see the second neo-Gothic altar with the “Madonna Queen of Peace between St. Francis and St. Catherine of Siena” from 1940, still by Aldo Dragoni, and the canvas with the “Birth of the Virgin” dated 1640 by Bernardino Santini.

Walking along Via dell’Agania, visitors can catch a unique view of the church’s lovely stone and brick bell gable tower, otherwise hidden by the buildings in the old town.

Interior of the Church of Sts. Michael and Hadrian. The building of Lombard origin was rebuilt in the 12th century.

Madonna and Child Enthroned between Sts. Benedict, Michael, John the Baptist and Romualdo by Neri di Bicci (1466)

Mosaic on the façade with Christ the king between Saints Michael and Hadrian, based on a design by Giovanni Bassan (1934)

Oil on canvas with the Birth of the Virgin on the right side, by Bernardino Santini (ca. 1640)

Detached fresco with the Virgin and Child attributed to Andrea di Nerio (second half of the 14th century)

Crucifixion among the Sorrowful, detached fresco of the Spinelli school on the left wall (late 14th century)

St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Teresa Margaret Redi by Aldo Dragoni (1940)

Our Lady Queen of Peace between St. Francis and St. Catherine of Siena by Aldo Dragoni (1940)