Ex Monastero delle Benedettine
The church and convent, constructed by Benedictine nuns in 1393 on the southern bank of the River Arno, is now in private hands. It was built on part of an area known as tegularia in the early middle ages because of the many brick and pottery kilns there, confirmed by archaeological discoveries inside the convent perimeter. The building was largely restructured first in the 16th century, when in 1565 it passed from the nuns to the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, and then in the 17th century, when the plain façade, facing S. Paolo a Ripa d’Arno church,and the square bell tower with a pyramidal cusp were added.
15th century frescos by Benozzo Gozzoli, depicting the Stories from the Life of St. Benedict, were almost completely demolished during renovations in 1643, leaving only a fragment, now in the central Headquarters of the Cassa di Risparmio di Pisa Bank, in piazza Dante.
The neo-Gothic facade dates from 1850, when the riverside frontage was redesigned by the architect Domenico Santini. He divided the wall into three aedicules in dark red ochre linked by two walls in yellow ochre, decorated with terracotta mouldings. The design of the windows in the “flamboyant” Gothic style was an architectural novelty in Pisa. Santini’s work was more aesthetic than practical innature, since the nuns had restored the convent at their own expense in 1814, a condition imposed on them by Ferdinand Lorraine if they wanted to keep it in their possession. The altars were removed in 1889, and are now in the parish Church at Navacchio, near Pisa.