Le Piagge and San Michele degli Scalzi

Abside e campanile - Chiesa S. Michele degli Scalzi (L. Corevi, Comune di Pisa)
Abside e campanile - Chiesa S. Michele degli Scalzi (L. Corevi, Comune di Pisa)
The name comes from the use, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, of the river banks as beaches equipped with bagnetti, small wooden constructions used for undressing and wearing swimwear. From ponte della Vittoria, a post-war construction that replaced the original dated 1934 (collapsed shortly after the inauguration), there is a real river park, with cafes and spaces for leisure and wellness, about 2 kilometres long. In 1852, the Politeama Theatre was inaugurated here. Unfortunately destroyed during the Second World War, was replaced by the Palazzo dei Congressi of Pisa.
In the middle of the avenue is the church of San Michele degli Scalzi in Orticaia, mentioned in 1025, with the evident leaning bell tower. The toponym 'orticaia' can refer to the conditions of the ancient district, swampy and rich in nettles, but also to the vast concentration of gardens, horticarum, which once supplied the city. The church was restored and annexed to the convent of the Pulzanesi (Scalzi) Benedictine monks in 1178 and shows a façade marked by five blind arches with lozenges and recesses, typical of the Pisan Romanesque style. The lunette above the main portal of the Blessing Christ is a work dated 1204 that is affected by the Byzantine influence in the art schools of Pisa (the original is in the national museum of San Matteo). The bell tower, strongly inclined due to a subsidence of the ground, shows a clear reference to Lombard architecture in its increasing levels of multi-mullioned windows. Some copies of the ceramic basins of Islamic make that decorated the outside are still visible. The interior has three naves with Romanesque columns and capitals from the eleventh century as well as reclaimed and preserves a painted cross by the Pisan school from the 13th century.
SMS, San Michele degli Scalzi Exhibition Centre: outside the church, on the Viale delle Piagge, there is a sculpture representing an acronym, SMS, San Michele degli Scalzi. Since 2012, the exhibition centre has as its main objective to become a reference point for contemporary arts. Its spaces were created in the former monastery, combining the original 12th-century brick construction with new materials, such as concrete, glass and steel. The entrance is on the side of the apse of the church, at the end of a staircase that makes the space below perfect for theatrical performances and concerts. Indeed, many thematic events and exhibitions have taken place there over the years. In the entrance there is a nice mural by Pisan artist Ozmo, from 2013, a reinterpretation of the theme of Orlando Furioso, featuring F13 planes, illustrious Pisan personalities, such as Galileo, Fibonacci, Antonio Tabucchi and Angelica and Orlando intent on writing their love.
Richard-Ginori: from 1784 the Piagge area was well known in the city for the production of ceramics and glass, given the presence of the Palme factory, which was purchased by Augusto Richard in 1887. After the merger with the Ginori factory in Doccia, Sesto Fiorentino, the complex took the name of Richard-Ginori.

Amarcord: on the wall that runs along the river, on the other side of the avenue, near the church, we can read the following words:

Associazione Culturale
del Buon Custodimento e Svago
I ragazzi del muretto 'sempr’allegri e mai ’ontenti'
Le Piagge 28/11/2001

The plaque was placed here in memory of the time spent together by the inhabitants of Porta a Piagge, a group of friends who still meet to remember when as children they played in the monastery field, or in the park.
Last update: 03/02/2021