This church with its white and green marble façade is the last example of the extraordinary period of Pistoian polychrome decoration and interprets in a fully mature manner the feeling of the period.
A motif of small arches - supported by fiat pilaster strips and decorated above by polychrome rhombi - runs along the south wall and includes the side door with the arched lintel in black and white marbles. The same motif is to be found on the façade which has three doorways of which the middle one is topped by a sculpted architrave.
The sculptures portraying Christ and the Apostles are very near in style to the workshop of the Guidis, artists who were working in Pistoia in the mid 1200s. The mastery of the carving, the figures separated by small columns of green marble, are seen alongside beautiful inlays depicting fantastic animals taken from the rich medieval bestiary. To the upper left and right, the entrance doors are flanked by two magnificent griffins in white marble.
The origins of San Pietro date to a past so distant that the church can possibly be related to the paleo-Chuistian cathedral. The church was already built before the Lombard period when the via regis, began here and it must have had a remarkable importance since its name was given to the southern gate of the city, called the Sancti Petri gate.
San Pietro, entirely rebuilt at the end of the eleventh century, was enlarged with the convent which, from that moment until the late 1700s, hosted a group of Benedictine nuns. Great changes were made in the seventeenth century when the Jesuit architect Tommaso Ramignani worked on the choir, giving the church the Baroque style that stili characterizes its three naves.
Since the year 1822 the organ designed by Benedetto Tronci stands out on the inside wall of the façade as a work that is highly original for its structural complexity as well as for its many registers. This important instrument is an example of the vitality of Pistoia's organ-building school.
The church has been closed to worship for many years while the convent has become the seat of the local art school. Many projects for the building's better use have been proposed and one of these should allow, in the near future, the permanent exposition of the plaster casts by the Pistoian sculptor Andrea Lippi.
Comune di Pistoia