Following the collapse of a column, not even a main one, which took place on 2 September 1783, the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena had the church of San Pier Maggiore demolished. Although it was one of the oldest churches in Florence, documented since as early as 1067 aC.
The church was full of splendid artworks, by leading artists, including Botticelli and Perugino, and located in a good neighborhood, at least around the middle of the thirteenth century, when Florence was divided into “sestieri” (six parts) and that of San Pier Maggiore was inhabited by noble families. It is also mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy, as the place where his ancestor Cacciaguida lived.
The destructive enthusiasm of the Grand Duke was actually linked more than to the stability of the building, to the desire to reduce the political and economic power of the Church. The fact is that only the arches of the façade survived, two of which today are buffered, and various traces in the private houses that have taken their place.
But such minor traces have made it possible to “resurrect” it and make it visible and open to visitors, both where it once stood, and from a distance, thanks to an extraordinary research work as illustrated in this video, which you absolutely must see.
It all started thanks to the National Gallery in London, and a couple of paintings of their collection which were made for San Pier Maggiore, by Jacopo di Cione and Botticini.
Now a fantastic augmented reality application has been created that we would like to see applied in many other circumstances.
For example, the church of San Pier Scheraggio, also in Florence, which was demolished for the construction of the Uffizi. Inside the church there was a famous painting by Cimabue depicting the Madonna in the act of putting her son to sleep. It was called “Madonna della ninna nanna (lullaby)“, hence the name of today’s Via della Ninna.
Art–Test worked, together with a large partnership, on the “PRIMARTE” regional project on the case of the former Convent of the “Campora” in Florence.
Frescoes of the former complex of Santa Maria al Sepolcro – Le campora
The entire complex, whose construction dates back to the fifties of the fourteenth century, and which was of great importance at the time, came to depend in 1434 on the Badia Fiorentina, one of the religious and cultural hubs of the city, with a studium, a library and intellectuals who promoted important artistic commissions. The building no longer exists. Only a part of it remains, now integrated into a private house, with magnificent although almost unknown frescoes, which illustrate the stories of Saint Anthony the Abbot and his encounter with the hermit Paul, according to the biographies composed in the 4th century A.D by Athanasius and Jerome. These paintings, of great beauty and pictorial refinement, are exceptional for the completeness of the cycle and for the figurative particularities that appear there.
As part of the PRIMARTE project, an integrated platform was created, already in 2015, collecting and organising a huge amount of information. Just by clicking on the various parts of the reconstructed church and convent, all data become visible: historical and current, diagnostic results and restoration reports, 3D models and orthoplanes … in short, everything. Even if, unfortunately, they are not currently available to the public, in our opinion a real shame. We hope that next time we will be able to replicate the project in another site and give it the visibility it deserves!