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The romanesque Pieve di Santa Maria a Scò

Places of worship

The very ancient Pieve di Santa Maria a Scò, in Castelfranco Piandiscò, is endowed with many special features that make it a unique church

The Pieve di Santa Maria a Scò is one of the oldest religious buildings in Valdarno and the main church in Pian di Scò, a small hamlet of Castelfranco Piandiscò. The church is documented as far back 1008 A.D., but it is likely that its origins date back to an earlier period. 

The pieve stands not far from the Acqua Zolfina Trail, which crosses the famous Balze landscape, and is located along the Via dei Setteponti, a millennia-old route of probable Etruscan origin, partly corresponding to the Cassia Vetus, or ancient Cassia. It is possible that its construction took place in two phases: one part of the church is made of large stone blocks, neatly arranged, while other sections were made of small stones close together. It is certain, however, that over the centuries the building underwent several modifications, carried out from a core of Lombard origin present in numerous papal documents that, during the 12th century, confirm that the pieve's belonging to the diocese of Fiesole.

Interno della Pieve di Santa Maria a Scò
Interno della Pieve di Santa Maria a Scò - Credit: Sailko

Built in Romanesque style, the Pieve di Santa Maria a Scò presents on the outside a facade divided into five sections with pilasters, on which two single-lancet windows open. The triapsidal structure, visible from the outside, has a peculiarity: the apses, which correspond to the back of the church, face the street, while the entrance remains on the opposite side. This is due to the fact that the central apse, inside which the altar is placed, symbolically faces east, from where the main street of the town passes. Another unique feature of the pieve is the pyramidal spire bell tower, which is very tall compared to the body of the church and recognizable even from far away.

Inside, the church is simple and divided into three naves separated by two rows of columns, only the first of which have inlaid capitals. The decorations, made with anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and phytomorphic motifs, are reminiscent in features of those admired in the nearby Pieve di Gropina, in Loro Ciuffenna, the oldest in Valdarno.

The roof of Santa Maria a Scò is trussed, while the sloping floor is another special feature of the building: in fact, the altar is raised 70 centimeters above the level of the entrance door.

Among the works in the parish church are three altarpieces of 17th century origin and a 15th century fresco depicting a Madonna and Child Enthroned, attributed to the workshop of Paolo Schiavo, while a second Madonna and Child, also from the 15th century, is attributed to the workshop of Lorenzo Ghiberti.

More attractions in Castelfranco Piandiscò