The parish church of San Gennaro (Plebs S. Iaunarii de Asilattia)
Village of San Gennaro
History and architecture
The churches of the plain of Lucca, placed at the head of large ecclesiastical districts, were generally rebuilt on the structure of previous buildings. The church of San Gennaro, as well, was rebuilt during the 12th century on the previous structure and its geographically strategic position on the border between the plain of Lucca and the Valdinievole, favored during the Middle Ages the formation of a village around it.
The Parish Church of San Gennaro was probably founded in the period of San Frediano (6th century) even if the first documentation dates to 980.
The present church, after the reconstruction work started in the 11thcentury, reached an exceptional harmony in the 13th.
Equipped with three naves, three apses and a sloped facade, it has,outside of the north sector, in the only surviving apse and in the capitals of the left nave, decorative elements that recall the first period of its construction. The capitals of the right nave belong,instead, to the second phase.
In the 17th century, the central apse and that of the south side, were destroyed and replaced by differently shaped structures . Even the facade underwent considerable transformations in time, such as the loss of the decoration of the two gables and the substitution of that of the mean sector.
The pulpit of 1162, signed by Mastro Filippo and preserved at the limits of the chancel, is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture present at the periphery of the city. In ancient times it was placed next to the altar and was supported by four columns.
The bell tower that stands isolated north of the building was only built in 1840, as the inscription reports.
Works of art
Inside, noteworthy are the panel depicting the Madonna and Child by Vincenzo Frediani and Raniero Leonardo (1507) and a painting of the Madonna by S. Tofanelli.
A special mention is due to the terracotta statue of an angel, about four feet high, of which Professor Petretti from University of Los Angeles has attributed the authorship to the leading exponent of the Italian Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci. According to the studies of the eminent academic, the statue was created by a young Leonardo around 1470 in the workshop of Verrocchio. Archival documents asses that, after having been damaged unintentionally with a ladder by a sacristan, it underwent a small restoration in 1773.