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certaldo alto

The complex of San Vivaldo was built among thick woods in the place where the blessed Vivaldo Stricchi lived his life as a hermit at the beginning of the fourteenth century.

cappelle di san vivaldo montaione Instead of the chestnut tree in which the body of Vivaldo was found, a little Church was built in 1320; this church was later enlarged and, in 1497, was given to Franciscan Friars Minor, who built a monastery.  
Just settled, in the sixteenth century, the Franciscan Friars Minor started to build a series of little churches and chapels depicting the topography and holy places of Jerusalem. The purpose of this unusual representation was to offer everybody the opportunity to make a pilgrimage without going to Jerusalem, which was under Turkish rule. In fact, a bull of Pope Leo X (of the Medici family) shows the recognition of the chapels and the granting of an indulgence to those who would go there to pray.  
Friar Thomas chose this place very carefully and used the astronomical orientation of Jerusalem instead of the local one: east of the Convent, he had identified a wooded valley that looked like the valley of Josafat; further south, an elevation could represent the Garden of Olives, while north, the flat spaces of the temple corresponded to a natural level ground. Finally, a small hill was suitable to become Mount Calvary.
First, Tuscan Jerusalem was composed of 34 chapels, 17 of which still exist today; inside these chapels, there are polychrome terracotta reliefs depicting episodes of Christ’s life. These were made by various, mostly nameless artisans, who carried out their activities of continuing the technique developed by the Della Robbia family.  
Inside this path, the municipality of Montaione has organized a permanent exhibition that shows the features of this place in relation with Jerusalem.

This exhibition is divided into four parts:

  • Life and tradition of hermit Vivaldo
  • Friar Thomas and San Vivaldo’s Jerusalem
  • San Vivaldo and Jerusalem
  • San Vivaldo, Varallo and the Franciscan tradition of the Sacred Mounts

During the summer, it is open every day from 10am to 7pm and; during the winter, it is open on Saturdays and holidays from 10am to 6:30pm.


Published: 31/1/2014

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