Founded in 1602 on the initiative of Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici, the basilica of Madonna della Fontenuova is the historic and urban heart of Monsummano Terme. The Sanctuary stands on the site of an old tabernacle, with an image of the Virgin and Child that is believed to be the source of several different miracles. Today it’s part of the main altar. The Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando ordered the construction of the temple on the site where a water source miraculously formed, assigning the task to Gherardo Mechini, who was already involved in work for the Medici Villa of Montevettolini.
On December 30 of that same year, Prince Cosimo laid the first stone of the Sanctuary, and the construction work ended in 1605. The Basilica was consecrated in 1616, but work on the interior decoration continued for some time. The building, which has a rare elegance and starkly somber composition, is particularly interesting due to its stylistic homogeneity and continuous harmony between the architectural structure and its decorative elements. With a traditional Latin cross plan, and only one central nave, the church is surrounded by a portico on three sides: from this portico, via a steep staircase, you can access the spring.
The building is located on a large piazza that belies its articolated structure, defined according to strict classical and geometric models, but updated with sculptural decoration in the late-Mannerist and Baroque styles, as seen on the capitals and on the trim of the portals. Under there are 14 lunettes, completed by Giovanni Mannozzi da Sangiovanni between 1630 and 1633, telling the story of the Sanctuary and of the miracles performed by the Virgin of the Fontenuova. The beautiful entrance portal was carved by the Pistoiese woodcutter Giovanni Desideri, who also completed the church’s wooden ceiling.
[For more information: www.comune.monsummano-terme.pt.it]