Castelvecchio is one of the 10 'Castella', the small ancient villages that rise on the north hills of Pescia, in the territory of the upper valley of the river of the same name, always called Valleriana, one of the most beautiful areas of Valdinievole where nature is the main protagonist. Here, nestled in a green and lush landscape there is the Pieve dei SS. Tommaso and Ansano, the oldest sacred building in the Valdinievole and of the whole province of Pistoia. The parish church, made of stone from the nearby quarries, rises outside the town in an isolated position, on a spur of rock, dominating the valley from above. Solitaire, behind the church, stands the bell tower, also made of local stone, similar to a mighty watchtower. The green all around embraces the parish church and its bell tower as if to protect them from the rest of the world, and silence is the setting for this place of faith. The structure, although it has undergone many interventions over time, preserves the essential aspect and the typical characteristics of Lombard Romanesque architecture (twelfth century). The origins of the Pieve date back to the Lombard era: it is mentioned for the first time in a document dated 1879.Its date of elevation is debated, lacking the decisive documentary sources: by some it is placed between the 9th and 10th centuries, by others it is between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. But still, very little remains of the original plant due to the various renovations to which the complex was subjected, in particular the one back in 1875, the year in which the building was declared National monument. Many mysteries surround the parish church, starting from the crypt built in the place where Saint Ansanus martyr gathered in prayer, to get to the zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures that populate it, such as example the enigmatic sculptures of the facade, large demonic-looking faces recalling masks of African or pre-Columbian culture. But even more mysterious are the three characters represented equally on the facade and on the back, perhaps Jesus with the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene or God with Adam and Eve or perhaps simple 'praying people', if it wasn't for a legend about a white death... According to a popular tradition, in fact, the central character would be the master mason fallen during the construction of the parish church, perhaps by the hands of the devil, depicted in the monstrous figures below, in an attempt to hinder their work: by showing it, in this way people would have reminded the sacrifice of those who had lost their lives while building the house of God. The church of Castelvecchio preserves a profound symbolism linked to sunlight and on some days of the year the sun illuminate the church with a particular meaning. The last episode, in order of time, took place last December 21, on the occasion of the winter solstice; next will be for the summer solstice.
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