There are fine Romanesque baptismal churches dotted over our peaceful green hills, bearing witness by their presence to our past religious and spiritual history; countless solitary churches, set in out-of-the-way corners of the countryside surrounded by magnificent scenery, rise up in an atmosphere of deep spirituality. Every one of them is worth visiting for its artistic value and historical significance, Suffice it to cite the curious Church of St. Peter the Apostle, with its baroque leanings, in the village of Libbiano, where past and present closely intertwine. Fine frescoes dating back to 1479 and set in four niches in the Chapel of St. Catherine in Legoli, on a hill surrounded by cypresses, are a reminder that Benozzo Gozzoli worked in the country here after fleeing plague-ridden Pisa. Palaia, with its Baptismal Church of St. Martin, a national monument that hosts major festivals of music and singing from time to time, is a significant landmark. The Romanesque Baptismal Church of St. Mary of the Assumption in Fabbrica, with its colourful Della Robbia ceramics, is of equal distinction. The architectural complex formed by the Church of Our Most Holy Lady of the Annunciation in Capannoli, built in and around the 15th century, is particularly fine. The opposite side of the Valdera, the side facing seawards, is home to the curious Baptismal Church of San Donato in Chianni. All that is to be seen of it is a little portal wedged between the walls and the square. Only the apse rears majestically up over the countryside below. The Chapel of the Company of Our Most Holy Lady of the Assumption, which seems to have been the castle armoury in olden times, lies below it, as if it were a crypt. The building has been used for religious services, under its present name, since the 16th century. Part of the terracotta floor and a tombstone are all that remains of the original building; it took on its present appearance in the 18th century, when it was converted under architect Giacomo Donati, and frescoed by Domenico Tempesti between 1739 and 1741. At the point where the wild vegetation announces that the coast is close by, the Fortress of Pietracassa with its proud features looms over the hills from its dominant position. In addition to all this there are the magnificent works of contemporary art that have enhanced the artistic heritage of Peccioli and Terricciola over recent years. This marriage of ancient and modern adds to the Valdera’s charm, bestowing on it yet another reason for not being forgotten.
Alta Valdera, Peccioli, Rivalto Orciatico, Terricciola