Chiesa di San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno
Recorded as already existing in 1032, the Church with adjoining monastery passed to the monks of Vallombrosa in around 1090-1092. Several stages in its construction are recorded, one of which, dating from mid 12th century, included the restructuring of the presbytery, re-consecrated in 1148.
At the same time the front, in the style of Rainaldo’s facade of the Cathedral was nearing completion, with a double pitched roof, pilasters, dead arches, marble intarsia and three tiers of arches. The marble facing of the north wall and the left side date from the mid 13th century, while the facade was only completed in the 14th century. The monastery consisted of two cloisters, one built against the south wall of the Church and the other behind the apse, near the chapel of S. Agata; both were badly bombed during the second world war and, together with the bell tower, were demolished.
After 1409 the monastery was commended and in 1565 was consigned to the Order of Knights of St. Stephen under the patronage of the Florentine Grifoni family. The church and monastery underwent renovation in 1615 and again in mid 18th century. When the Order of St Stephen was suppressed in 1798, the church became a parish and in 1853 underwent radical renovation: the side altars and plastering on the walls were removed, reducing it to its present state.
Of all the rich decoration on the walls, part of which was done by Buonamico Buffalmacco in the early years of the 14th century, only a fragment remains, on a pillar, depicting Saints Bartholomew and Francis. There is a Roman sarcophagus that once held the remains of the Pisan jurist Burgundio (1194) and a Madonna and Child with Saints by Turino Vanni (14th century).