As we got our bearings with a walk along the Arno in Pisa, we saw a tiny ornate Gothic building on the opposite bank. It piqued our interest and in due course, we found ourselves on a collision course with this building, as it was located on the sidewalk.
Santa Maria della Spina church was built in the Pisan Gothic style around 1230 and enlarged after 1325. It was originally know as Santa Maria di Pontenovo, named after a nearby bridge, which collapsed in the 15th century and was never rebuilt.
The current name is derived from a relic (a thorn or “spina”, purportedly from the crown of thorns worn by Jesus, during his crucifixion) brought to the church in 1333. The thorn is now housed in Chiesa di Santa Chiara.
In the 1871, the church was dismantled and moved to higher ground, to save it from possible flood damage from the nearby Arno River. During the move, its appearance was altered, causing local outrage .
The church is seldom used now and the interior is empty. Doors are intermittently opened for short periods during the week. It was closed when we visited and we never did get back to look inside.
Small but Mighty
Defying the odds
della Spina carries on,
as Arno flows by.