Chiesa di San Zeno
The earliest evidence of the Church of San Zeno dates from 1029. In the middle ages it is described as standing in an area known as “alle grotte”, because of ancient ruins used as quarries for building materials. There are also several pieces of Roman masonry built into the walls of this church.
The Church as we see it today, part of an abbey originally belonging to the Benedictine order of monks, is the result of many alterations, beginning before the 10th century. Archaeological investigations in the 1960s revealed a square-shaped ground plan divided into a nave and two aisles with the later addition of three apses. Parts of the walls of the earlier construction were built intothe 11th and 12th century modifications. The oldest partsof the Church go back to before the 10th century and later ones are similar to other 10th and 11th century buildings in Pisa.
The church faces southwest and is divided into tree aisles separated by alternating columns and pilasters, some of which are crowned with recycled capitals. The south front has an forepart over the entry to the church, beside which are the remains of the bell tower. The ground floor of this forepart is a porch decorated with elements in Roman marble and small dead arches with circular and rhomb-shaped motifs. The wall above is attractively decorated with mullioned windows surrounded by archlets poised on corbels and a similar motif of circles and rhombs.
The 11th century decoration of marble basins is barely discernable today, only their circular beds are now visible. Above, on the facade which is of a more recent date, there is a large circular window with a bishop’s arms above, dating from the 15th century.