A Tour of the Parish Churches in Capolona


In the lower Casentino Valley, you can take a nice excursion to see the parish churches of Capolona. These are small treasures to discover in this picture-perfect part of Tuscany, alongside the olive trees, cypresses and towers that you see as you go along. This path that follows the ancient "road of the parish churches" was a pilgrimage that, during the Middle Ages, started from Arezzo and went as far as the upper Casentino area. The trails kept to the right of the Arno river and passed by all the important medieval parish churches.

The beautiful landscapes, the art and the history are the absolute stars of this tour which starts in Pieve a Sietina at the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, passes through San Martino Sopr’Arno and ends up at the Pieve dei Santi Giovanni Battista and Marino.

The tour starts in Castelluccio, at Pieve a Sietina, a medieval village that takes its name from the quaint parish church of Santa Maria Maddalena. This very old church dates back to 1022 and has three naves that are divided by large rectangular pillars and lead to semicircular apses. This church represents a perfect example of Romanesque style.

Inside, you can see the delicate frescoes from the 14th century and from the Renaissance along with the lovely stained glass window dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena. In Castelluccio, there is also the Church of Saint Michael Archangel. Built in the 14th century, it was completely restored at the end of the 18th century and the old bell tower was rebuilt and fitted with a clock. The aura of peace and mystical reflection of this place is impressive. The one-nave interior is embellished by a large painted wooden sculpture of the Madonna and Child. This is surrounded by a series of 15 panels, from the second half of the 16th century, that depict the Mysteries of the Rosary and seem to have a Vasarian influence. 

From Castelluccio, you’ll head towards the hamlet of Saint Martin Sopr’Arno, where you can see the parish church of the same name, built at the beginning of 1000. The semicircular apse and the back wall are the only remaining elements of the original structure that was composed of three naves. 

The Church of Saint Martin Sopr’Arno was restructured in the 19th century but it hasn’t lost its ancient charm. Today visitors see the church in its new 19th century form- shortened in length, with an additional apse dated in 1854, its stone gabled facade and the rib vault bell tower with double-arched windows.

Last but not least is the Church of Saint John the Baptist and Marino, the sacred building of the small town of Pieve San Giovanni. Founded in the 5th century, the church was completely restored in the 18th century but kept the current counter-facade of the Romanesque sandstone ashlars, which are still recognizable today. 

Inside the church,  the wooden ceiling stands out thanks to its trusses. There are two late-mannerist altars on the side walls. The one on the left one has a 14th century Crucifix. Behind the high altar, there is a 17th century canvas depicting the Baptism of Jesus.

This parish church is a small gem made of stone, where you’ll be fascinated by the combination of ages and styles. This tour of the churches reveals the authentic beauty of Capolona, a place so small, yet so rich in beauty. 

photo credits LigaDueLicenza Creative Commons

  • For those who love history, art and nature
  • For those who love the Middle Ages
  • For those who love a bit of silence
  • For adults and children
  • For those who love to discover hidden places far away from mass tourism
  • For those who love Tuscan landscapes
  • Comfortable shoes
  • A camera
  • Curiosity

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