I was introduced to Rita Richardson by my blogging friend Margie Miklas. Rita fell in love with hilltop Tuscan town Castiglion Fiorentino a few years ago and bought her little piece of the village. She visits from America several times a year. It is a beautiful town…
For years she walked down her street without noticing the abandoned Oratorio San Filippino. It is easy to see why, the door is firmly closed and there is not much evidence of what lies inside.
One day she discovered what had been hidden for decades and decided something needed to be done to bring this exquisite little church back to life. She has created Friends of San Filippino with like minded people to raise money to allow the church to be restored.
I was lucky enough to to meet Rita and some of her friends in Castiglion Fiorentina and visit the church. We entered through the sacristy.
Our guide, Edoardo, showed us remains of the frescoes on the vaulted ceiling and inside a little alcove in the wall.
In the 17th century Baroque Oratorio there are many beautiful features enduring despite years of neglect. It was one of the first oratories established in Tuscany by San Filippo, known as Saint Philip Neri.
The beautiful wooden ceiling is in dire need of repair.
Several pieces of art have been removed for safe keeping, but not much can be done with the sculptures and stone altar until proper restoration begins.
At the back of the church are the rooms where the people of the church lived. It is also hoped that these rooms can be restored and made available to members of the public. We could only see from the outside as the floors are crumbling and dangerous.
As well as saving San Filippo the main goal of the group is to create a model for others who want to restore important landmarks and help revitalise small towns throughout Italy…every small town in Italy has at least one gorgeous old building just waiting for someone to come along and love it and want to bring it back to life.
It was great to meet Rita and Eduardo and the lovely Texan friends of San Filippino. I wish them the best of luck with this very ambitious project.
Please visit the website of Friends of San Filippo, sign up for the newsletter and help if you can. Share the post on Facebook…spread the word.