San Giovanni Valdarno Tourist Attractions
SituationThe industrial town of San Giovanni lies in the Arno Valley halfway between Arezzo and Florence. The Autostrade del Sole (motorway) runs past the town on the other side of the river. There are lignite-mines in the surrounding area. The town's main industries are steelworking, ceramics and glass.San Giovanni Valdarno was the birthplace of the Renaissance painter Masaccio (Tommaso di San Giovanni di Simone Guidi, 1401-28).
In the center of the main square of San Giovanni Valdarno (Piazza Cavour and Piazza Masaccio) is the 13th century Palazzo Pretorio, probably built by Arnolfo di Cambio. On the outside are numerous coats of arms of Florentine podestàs and vicari of the 15th and 16th centuries, and in front of the building is a column bearing a figure of the Marzocco, the heraldic beast of Florence. To the rear is the 14th century Parish Church of San Giovanni Battista, with a beautiful portico. Behind the Palazzo Pretorio is the 15th century Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, with a Neo-Classical façade of 1840. The church contains an image of the Madonna (c. 1400) which is revered as miraculous. Adjoining the church is the Pinacoteca Parrocchiale, with a small but interesting collection of pictures. Also in the square is the 14th century Oratorio di San Lorenzo, with two aisles of different heights; on the high altar can be seen a large polyptych by Giovanni del Biondo (14th century).
Convento di Montecarlo
The Convento di Montecarlo, founded in the 15th century, is well worth a visit. The church (San Francesco) has a beautiful "Annunciation" by Fra Angélico (c. 1440) or his pupil Zanobi Strozzi.
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