The Benedictine Abbey of San Godenzo (Dennis Aubrey)


A couple of days ago we headed to Florence to meet PJ’s brother Mark in the Tuscan capital for three days. We decided to take the old road between Ravenna and Firenze through the mountainous Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi. This road took us across the Apennines mountains where we came across the Benedictine monastery of San Godenzo.

Nave, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Nave, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

We were desperate to shoot with our full equipment, including tripods, after the restrictions of Ravenna and we found the perfect place at the Abbazia di San Godenzo, a 12th century Benedictine abbey. The church was completely empty during our two hours there and we were delighted to be able to photograph to our hearts’ content. The structure of the church is quite familiar with a nave and two side aisles, but there is no transept. The structure is unvaulted, but covered with a wooden ceiling.

Side aisle, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana)  Photo by PJ McKey

Side aisle, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana) Photo by PJ McKey

The elevation of the church is quite simple – the arcade arches are carried by sturdy piers and above the arcade is a series of clerestory windows. This is, as might be expected, a fairly dark church.

Tribune and nave elevation, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana)  Photo by PJ McKey

Tribune and nave elevation, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana) Photo by PJ McKey

The church had a couple of unique features, including a tribune dividing the crossing and an elevated apse above. Below the ape is a small dark crypt. There are stairs mounting to the apse on either side of the tribune.

Tribune from north side aisle, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana)  Photo by PJ McKey

Tribune from north side aisle, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana) Photo by PJ McKey

The highlight of the raised apse is the beautiful mosaic in the oven vault. This entire raised choir is a testament to the monastic origin of the church, since the altar used for normal services is below in the crossing.

Apse mosaic, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Apse mosaic, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

The crypt is very interesting in itself, hidden behind the main altar and underneath the tribune.

Crypt, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana)  Photo by PJ McKey

Crypt, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana) Photo by PJ McKey

Inside we can see the darkened shrine with its groin vaulting.

Crypt interior, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Crypt interior, Abbazia di San Godenzo, San Godenzo (Toscana) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

This post is just a small introduction to the church. We’ll do better justice to the Abbazia di San Godenzo when we return home in June. Meanwhile there will be plenty of other adventures to write about, including PJ’s ascent to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome above the Duomo in Florence.

Location: 43.926093° 11.618749°

11 responses to “The Benedictine Abbey of San Godenzo (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. Ah, lovely..what a peaceful find! If ever I return to that region, I must seek it out. And apropos Brunelleschi’s dome…I ascended it in the early 1980s and glad I did…it’s beyond me now.

  2. Interesting crypt. My father was in Florence during WWII, he often said he would have liked to return and see the city during happier times. A place on my bucket list.

  3. What a beautiful and unusual church. I felt myself mentally searching out all the nooks and crannies.
    A note to P.J. I just finished reading Ross King’s history of the construction of Brunelleschi’s Dome. What a project that was over many years with a lifetime’s amount of political strife. I would love to have joined you there.

    • It was a pilgrimage to climb all those steps and get through narrow spaces and dark corridors with the rest of the adventurers . It was really an experience to see the dome fresco close up and then on to the top of the dome outside for the amazing view of Florence. So happy I could do it.
      I would love to have shared it with all of you.

      PJ

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