The Church of Saints Vito and Ranieri, popularly known as the Church of San Vito, is a church located on the Lungarno Ranieri Simonelli, in Pisa, in which, according to tradition, Saint Rainerius, the patron saint of the city, died in 1160.
Documented since 1051, the church was surrounded by a Benedictine monastery in 1069. At the beginning of the 15th century, the whole complex passed to the nuns of Santa Chiara. A century later, the church was damaged during the Florentine siege of the city.
In 1542, Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, to realize the Giardino dei Semplici, now the Botanical Garden of Pisa, needed the area of the old Republican Arsenal and the adjacent territory. Subsequently, to build the new shipyard, he purchased the entire territory of the Convent of San Vito and had a large part of the building demolished.
The ancient church was seriously damaged during the bombings of the Second World War. Therefore, after the war, it was rebuilt in similar forms to those of the 18th century.
The church, crammed between two other buildings, has a simple plastered facade, with a portal surmounted by an arched tympanum and a rectangular window. Behind the church, is the bell tower, built in 1793 to a design by Roberto Bombicci.
The interior, with a single rectangular-shaped nave, has lost, due to war, the original works of art, such as two paintings by Ranieri Borghetti, a painting by Tempesti and a painting attributed to the school of Andrea del Sarto. Also missing is the wooden ceiling, once decorated with different paintings made by the circle of Ventura Salimbeni.
The back wall is adorned with a painting by Aurelio Lomi, depicting the Escape to Egypt, brought here in 1960. From the original medieval structure remains, on the floor, a 14th-century plaque of the Scacceri family.
On the east wall of the church is the great fresco of San Ranieri, a work performed according to Renaissance techniques by the artist Luca Battini.
HOW TO GET THERE
Pisa Centrale train station is located about 1 kilometer away from the church. The closest bus station is Fermi 3, on the bus Lines 5, 21, LAM Rossa and Navetta E, located in Piazza Solferino, about 250 meters away.