Chiesa di San Frediano
The Church of S. Frediano and adjacent hospital are first mentioned in 1061 under the double name of Saints Martino and Frediano. The church and hospital sheltered the needy and pilgrims and stood along a thoroughfare in the city that connected roads entering town from south of the river Arno to the present-day piazza dei Cavalieri, the political heart of the city throughout the middle ages.
Between 1076 and 1561 the church and hospital were run by Camandolese monks; the buildings were then handed over to the Military order of the Knights of St. Stephen, who used them for burials and decorated the centre of the church front with the Cross of the Order, cancelled during restoration work in 1964. In 1594 the church passed to the Barnabites who embellished it with nobiliary chapels. After the Lorraine Grand Dukes suppressed the convent, it became a parish church (1784) and is now the University Church.
The facade, dating from between the late 11th to early 12th centuries is the result of restoration work carried out in 1964 in order to recover the original medieval architecture of the building, modified several times in the modern age, in particular after a fire in 1675. The facade is divided into three stories and decorated with elements typical of Mediterranean Romanesque architecture - dead arches, corbels, rhombs and circular shapes – interwoven with re-used pieces from ancient Roman buildings, seen in the architrave above the door.
The square bell tower, concealed by modern buildings, appears to be 13th century. The Church interior, a Basilica, is divided by pillars crowned with 11th century capitals carved with animal and human shapes. A Cross with scenes from the Passion and a 12th century painting on wood with gold leaf background, cleaned in 1970 of later painted additions, complete the furnishings of the church.