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Monumenti&Musei: The Municipality

Church and Monastery of Saint Dominic

Pietracuta

Church and Monastery of Saint Dominic

On the hill facing the remains of the old castle in Pietracuta, lie the Dominican Church and monastery, with its solemn Renaissance architecture.

The building was actually built back in the first half of the XVII century, by a Count from Pietracuta, Giovanni Sinibaldi, who was also Governor of Rimini in 1616. Out of devotion, he donated a consistent amount of money during his life and in his last will, in order to see the building come to life. The buildings were completed only after his death, in July 1649, and a couple of years later (about 1655) hosted the first Dominican friars from Rimini.

Besides praying and preaching, the brothers devoted themselves to rice cultivation in the nearby marshlands of the Marecchia River, which was actually forbidden in the 80s of XVIII century by the City Council, due to the serious epidemics spreading in the village.
The entire complex is built in locally-made bricks which, due to cooking and quality, take different shades creating a fascinating outlook, highlighted by a few, but quite striking, Istrian stone inserts. The church’s terracotta façade has four pilaster strips, grounded on classical springers, identical to those used by Raphael in the Chigi’s stables on Lungara Street, in Rome. Next to it stands the monastery’s façade, built with bricks and marked by two white stone strips.

Unfortunately, the original portals of the buildings went lost. The two sides of the cloister which survived the centuries – with a central ring – are made up of four arches, supported by Tuscan order sandstone columns. The coat of arms of the Sinibaldi’s family is chiselled on two of the corner columns.

The church features a rectangular plan, typical of monasteries, with a big quadrangular apse, once hosting the choir and embellished on the entire length by a denticular cornice. On the sides of the nave four symmetrical arches create four side altars, which were unfortunately destroyed over the centuries. The altar with the crucifix still shows signs of the original fresco decoration with architectural motifs in perspective. The nave and the apse are separated by a triumphal arch, whose reveal features a plaster coffered decoration, alternating classical rose decorations and six huge pointed stars, heraldic emblem of the Sinibaldis. The apse’s vault shows a central decoration with a circular shape cornice. The only altar left to our days is the main one, although its wooden inlays and frontal, with “scagliola” decorations (a very light kind of plaster, which can often be coloured), are missing. The church must have been rich in decorations at the time, with all its furniture, in line with the opulent liveliness of Baroque style.
The monastery is a two-storey building, with the refectory deserving special mention, due to its groin vault, embellished by plaster ribs modelled in roses and coils, going from the four corners to the three curved spaces at the centre of the vault.
The upper floor can be reached either by means of the main stairway, or through a small stone staircase carved in the foundations of the bell tower. It features six rooms in different sizes and with different types of groin vaults: from the simplest and oldest one, without ribs, to a truly umbrella vault ending in a central star, the same as the one that can also be observed on the earthenware tiles of the third room. The second room is also called the angels’ room, as some of the plaster angels originally decorating its four walls at about two and a half meters from the ground, can still be admired.