Castelfiorentino – Santa Verdiana Museum
Via Timignano 1, Castelfiorentino
tel. +39 0571 64096
Saturdays 4 – 6 p.m.; Sundays 10 – 12 a.m. / 4 – 6 p.m.
Special openings by reservation
Once Cimabue thought that he would hold the field in painting, yet the cry is all for Giotto now.
[Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Purgatory XI chant]
With this verse from the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri introduces us to the most important and enigmatic work of art in the museum of the Ancient Sanctuary of Santa Verdiana. Cimabue, the master, or Giotto, the student, painted the Madonna and Child who looks at us, diverting her look for a moment from her child who tries to draw her attention back.
Let's form our idea by observing the masterpiece. Experts say that probably both Cimabue and Giotto worked on this panel. Surely, this painting is the epicentre of a museum that has few equals. It is named after Santa Verdiana, a nun who – following medieval tradition – lived walled up in her cell for thirty-four years. Not only did she give the name to the museum, but she inspired many rich families who, following the fame of Santa Verdiana, commissioned the works of art that are preserved in the museum today.
We can find the painted cross by Corso di Buono, the Madonna with Child and Saints by Taddeo Gaddi, a panel by Jacopo del Casentino, and a rich section of illuminated codices. Then the Madonna and Child by Rossello di Jacopo Franchi and a Nursing Madonna. The amazing Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli, the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by an unknown painter and the Visitation between Saints Jacopo and Stephen by Alesso di Benozzo, son of the celebrated painter Benozzo Gozzoli. The Madonna with Child by Francesco Granacci, the panel by Sollazzino, the Saint Sebastian, Annunciation and Saint Francis by Annibale Gatti. There is also a rich exhibition of sacred vestments and articles of jewelry.
We need to steal another verse from the Supreme Poet, who was a contemporary and admirer of Giotto: in front of such beauty, let's take his suggestion, and thus
to such a bidding let us now accord our feet.
[Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Purgatory XVII chant]