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  7. Pieve di Santa Eugenia in Bagnoro

Pieve di Sant’Eugenia in Bagnoro

The small valley of Bagnoro, on the southeast of Arezzo, derives its name from Balneum Aureum, golden baths, referring to the famous thermal baths that were not far from where the present rural church of st. Eugenia, one of the most beautiful and known of the area of Arezzo, is.

In the near area of Il Colle were found an Etruscan well and the remains of some pipes and structures from the 2nd century BC, maybe connected to the first baths, later rebuilt and improved during the Augustine time.

In time, the whole area was excavated and some finds prove that the area was populated at least since the 6th century BC, thanks to some water that was thought to be beneficial. During the first half of the 15th century, the reason for the restoration of the abandoned thermal baths was the aid in treating some ailments of the bones.

The valley is crossed by the Vingone stream and a multitude of brooks, one of those being the Valdina, that up to the present day have flooded every now and then, carrying alluvial debris from the Lignano mountain and from the small range of hills that surround the area. All of this has buried many proofs and has raised the level of the land in a remarkable way, as it is possible to notice around the church.

The invaluable religious building is dedicated to a martyr who lived during the 3rd century. The worship of st. Eugenia rose during the 5th/6th centuries, and probably the first church was built around that time. Of the early christian building, some parts resurfaced after the restoration carried out during the 1900s.

In the 7th or 8th centuries, a bigger church was built; it had a basilica design with three aisles and five bays. The monolith outside the church was an Etruscan travertine container used for the settling of water, re-used as a basement for the altar. It was restored in the 1920s, at the time of the excavation that wanted to restore the original planking area of the church.

Outside of the church there still are some remains of the early mediaeval baptistry, which at first was thought to be the basement of a cylindrical bell tower. Inside the sacristy were found the remains of some Roman ducts, thought to be used to bring water to the baptismal font; Some others think that the place was a religious site even before christianity.

The early mediaeval church was modified with a Romanesque style and the work was done mainly to the three apsis and the outside walls. In 1217, the church was consecrated with a new baptismal font inside with a octogonal base whose remains are in front of the building, where the first lost bay was.

The bell tower was built at the beginning of the 1400s and, in order to build it, one of the lateral apsis was destroyed. Around the same time, some paintings were added but almost all of them were lost, except for a “Madonna with child” between two angels curtain holders. Still, at the beginning of the 15th century was also made the bas relief that depicts “Madonna with child between st. Eugenia and Lorenzo” on the façade.

During the 16th century the first and the second bays along with the façade either collapsed or were demolished for safety reasons and the side aisles were walled up. The rural church, reduced, was abandoned and saw a period of decline that ended in the 1800s.

Between 1922 and 1923, the baptismal church was recovered with an arbitrary stylistic restoration but, thanks to the new restoration (1968-1981) that was carried out by the National Trust of Arezzo, the church was given back to Bagnoro as it can be admired today, both for citizens and visitors. Thanks to those long works, and some minor touches later,  the side aisles were freed, and were discovered the early mediaeval and Romanesque parts, such as the arches, the stone pillars and the marble columns, these last ones taken from a Roman building.

The drum of an ancient column is visible also on the pedestal of the baptismal font made in the 18th century, on the left of the altar, underlining the magic atmosphere of a place in which every single element is like a part of a unique puzzle of art, history and faith.