The ancient parish church of San Pietro 'prope Neure' .
The current building of the parish church of Saints Peter the Apostle and Mark the Evangelist is probably superimposed on the ancient plebs Santi Petri de Neure (see Atti Tavole Rotonde, vol. 1) mentioned for the first time in a document dated 21 May of the year 700, kept in the historical archive of Lucca (a copy).
The ancient Pieve is also mentioned in a document dated February 716, a report drawn up in the church of San Pietro in Neure to resolve a dispute about the boundaries between the bishop of Lucca and the bishop of Pistoia. There are no traces of the first construction - perhaps in wood; likely, however, that archaeological evidence remains within the perimeter of the current church; the scarce depth of the ground, however, suggests that the rebuilding of the 12th century and the 19th century have all canceled. The events of the building over the centuries remain obscure except for some periods of which architectural or archaeological traces remain.
Rebuilding in the 12th century
It is known that the importance of the ancient parish church of San Pietro in Neure grew until the 12th century, when it was completely rebuilt and enlarged within the framework of the larger plan for the modernization of the churches of Lucca. The plan of the church from the end of the 12th century can be reconstructed through the testimony of the Leopoldine Land Registry of the 1920s and confirmed by what emerged from the two archaeological campaigns in 1997 - 1998 (see Atti Tavole Rotonde, vol. 3). The building was enlarged to the point of being one of the major churches in the area of Lucca; a large bell tower was built (the base of the current bell tower, restored in 2008, remains intact today) and the service buildings were enlarged (a portion of a fortified building next to the tower still remains elevate, but incorporated into a civil building (see Atti Tavole Rotonde, vol. 2 p. 45). Also a small devotional artifact, a cross in lead casting (see Atti Tavole Rotonde, vol. 3 p. 29), typical of pilgrims, found in an ancient burial, and datable between the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th century, now preserved in the parish, and a 'treasure' of twenty-four silver coins, of Venetian origin, kept at the Larciano museum.
The decline in the 14th and 15th centuries
The succession of political unrest, wars and devastating epidemics (see Atti Tavole Rotonde, vol. 2 p. 33), marked the progressive and unstoppable decline of the parish church of San Pietro in this period. At this point, the ancient and glorious parish remains at the service of the very poor rural population. On the pastoral visit in 1430 the church was in a state of total abandonment, the furnishings were indecent and even the baptismal font was found broken and no longer usable.
From the 16th century archaeological evidence shows a resumption of activities, but the resurgence of the town (see Atti Tavole Rotonde, vol. 4) and of the place of worship is linked to the imposing demographic development that has been recorded since the 17th century from then on. The church, in poor condition, undergoes the collapse of the side nave 'in cornu evangelii' - on the left for those who enter - and the arches are closed in an approximate manner in order to continue, and in some way, to use the building. In the year 1700 the large and bright chapel of the Corpus Domini company was completed, built thanks to the people will, perhaps also to meet the needs of worship that could not be satisfied by the ancient parish church, now a simple rectory under the dependence of the proposition of San Pietro apostolo (formerly St. Michael the archangel) on the Montecatini hill. Things went on like this in the continuous and progressive deterioration of the building until, in the 1920s, the engineers of the Grand Duke noted the impracticability of the restoration project of the church due to the excessive deterioration of the building. This leads to the design and execution of a new church by the Bernardines (see Atti Tavole Rotonde, vol. 1), a well-known family of craftsmen / architects who, in that period, built three more churches in Valdinievole, in a sober neoclassical style: San Leopoldo in Albinatico, Santa Maria della Neve in Chiesina Uzzanese and this one in Pieve a Nievole completed in 1846. From then on there are no noteworthy facts and history becomes chronicle.
NB - The Atti Tavole Rotonde' mentioned, to can be downloaded from the website of the 'San Pietro a Neure' Historical Studies Center at: www.sanpietroaneure.it
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