Parish church of San Giovanni Battista in Querceto
with its beautiful architectural features
The church is located in the “borgo” of Querceto, a part of the municipality of Montecatini Val di Cecina. It’s one of the oldest parish churches of the area, dating back to the 10th century. Originally, it was located outside the “borgo” of Querceto, right on a very important street crossing the Val di Cecina from North to South.
The current building dates back to the 12th century, when the church was moved inside the town. The outside is the only part testifying the church’s old heritage, as the inside has been renovated several times.
It’s a small structure, with one nave and a wooden trusted roof. Originally, it had a semicircular apse, just like every other Romanesque parish church, but that was replaced by a square floor plan and a wooden choir. A double arch opens up on the transept and the columns’ capitals are decorated with acanthus leaves. The half-capitals on the right half-column is of big artistic value, with its decorations of the evangelists John and Luke framing the figure of Jesus.
An original monofora, the only small single-light window left in the church, is also still present in the right transept. The high altar was built in the 1970s, when the church went through a restoration period which restored its original medieval characteristics, especially on the inside. The walls were stripped of their neoclassical altars and left almost completely unplastered.
During the renovations, a few objects were found inside the old 1800s altar, among which a wooden pectoral cross decorated with a stylized figure of crucified Christ. In the figure, the faces of the two thieves emerge from under Christ’s arms, and the whole thing is wrapped in a vine branch. The cross dates back to between the 9th and the 10th century, and is kept in the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art in Volterra. Very characteristic are the fresco depicting rural scenes behind the altar and the maiolica above the door, which was made by the Ginori manufacturers at the beginning of the 20th century.
The inside can only be visited on specific occasions.