The Ancient Parishes churches of the high Modena Apennines and their Treasures

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These ancient and rural churches are like treasures which preserve the History, the culture and faith of this land. They represent one of the most fascinating aspects of the Modenese Apennines' cultural heritage. Often overlooking breathtaking landscapes, their religious importance has shaped this territory over the centuries.

Characterized by elegant simplicity and intense spirituality, these buildings often date back to the early Middle Ages, testifying Christian roots that have permeated the daily life of local communities.

Whether you are a lover of sacred art, a nature lover or a simple traveller in search of new experiences, the Modenese Apennines and its ancient parish churches will certainly amaze you.

  • Length
    24 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
  • First stop - The parish church of Santa Maria Assunta Pievepelago

    The parish church of Santa Maria Assunta stands just a few minutes' walk from the centre of a mountain village called Pievepelago. It is located on the banks of Scoltenna stream in the Pelago valley. 

    This church goes back as far as 1038, when it represented a landmark for the entire territory. The building we see today, however, dates back to the renovation work carried out in the 19th century. This church will certainly not fail to amaze you, starting with its façade that was rebuilt in 1868 by the well-known architect Cesare Costa, who was a native of the same town of Pievepelago. Together with the main door and the large circular window, all these elements give the church an air that is both ancient and modern and invite you to enter.

    The inside is composed by three naves and preserves a collection of valuable paintings such as "La pala dell'Assunta" by Carlo Rizzi, "Santa Filomena" by Adeodato Malatesta and "San Luigi Gonzaga" by Luigi Asioli. In addition, there are a precious silver statue of the Virgin Mary and a bronze crucifix by a local artist named Galli. 

    After spending a few hours of our morning in the ancient village of Pievepelago we head towards Pavullo nel Frignano.

  • Second stop - The St John the Baptist parish church Pavullo nel Frignano

    In the municipality of Pavullo, a beautiful medieval parish church dedicated to St John the Baptist, once the most important religious centre in the mountains which still graces the town of Renno.

    Known as 'Plebana di San Giovanni Battista' or simply as 'Pieve di Renno', this jewel of Byzantine origin was built around the 12th century at the behest of the Montecuccoli family but it gained the title of pieve just in 1157. The structure of this church echoes the classic type of mountain parish church: three-nave plan and the altar facing east. On either side of the latter are two side chapels, one of which - the one on the right - preserves the tombstone of Cesare Montecuccoli who died in 1506. Inside, the church retains several elements of historical and artistic interest, such as the ancient baptismal font dating back to 1628 and a capital placed at the entrance that retains the design of two roses. 

    Going back to the car, we head towards the Pieve dei Santi in Monteobizzo.

  • Third stop - The San Vincenzo de Paule Parish church Pavullo nel Frignano

    Perhaps not everyone knows that this church is perhaps the oldest of the baptismal churches in the Frignano area.

    Known as the Pieve di San Vincenzo de Paule (o Palude), it was built in the 12th century along important transit routes with the task of welcoming wayfarers; at least until 1157 when it was stripped of its title pieve in favour of that of Renno. This church boosts an historical, architectural and artistic relevance. In addition, its load-bearing structure is made of sandstone and inside the building it still houses a painting by Adeodato Malatesta whose subjects are Saint Mary and Child Jesus. 

    Before leaving the village of Renno in the direction of Coscogno, we recommend stopping at one of the restaurants in Pavullo nel Frignano to taste one of their many specialities.

  • Fourth stop - The medieval parish church of Coscogno Pavullo nel Frignano

    Dedicated to the Ravenna’s bishop Saint Apollinare, the medieval parish church of Coscogno is definitely worth a visit. According to the tradition, it was built far from the inhabited centre and for many decades it was frequented by holidaymakers who climbed the mountains in search of fresh air.

    The most valuable element of its façade is the doorway, which consists of three distinct parts: its external part consists of small columns and pilaster strips and dates from the late Romanic period; the internal part is characterised by convex corbels date from 14th century and, finally, the lunette added in the 13th century. The latter depicts two goats and two monsters with a palm tree in the centre: a detail that not only symbolises the struggle between good and evil, but also recalls the friezes of the Monteobizzo apse that recall Christ's victory over evil and death.

  • Fifth stop - The Santa Maria Assunta Parish church Serramazzoni

    The last stage of the itinerary takes us to the village of Rocca Santa Maria in Serramazzoni. The Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta is one of the oldest and most evocative parish churches in the Modenese mountains.

    Built between the 8th and 9th centuries, it passed into the hands of the daughter Matilde di Canossa, who donated it to the bishop of Modena in 1108. The inside of the parish church is simple but solid and composed by a three-nave structure as usual. Some curious details can be admired, such as the pre-Romanesque style capitals finely adorned with floral decorations and ribbons. Then, the columns on which are carved animal heads and an ancient tabernacle with Eucharistic symbols such as the chalice and ears of wheat. 

    Outside the parish church, near the ancient fortress, is a bronze bell from 1370 on which can be seen the noble coat of arms of the Da Savignano family, at the time the owners of the area.

Last update 26/01/2024

Information offices

Pro Loco Pievepelago
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 17 - Pievepelago (MO)
+ 39 0536 71304
Ufficio Informazione Turistica di Pavullo nel Frignano
Via Giardini, 3 - Pavullo nel Frignano (MO)
+ 39 0536 29964 + 39 0536 29025
UIT Serramazzoni
Piazza Torquato Tasso, 7 - Serramazzoni (MO)
+ 39 0536 952199

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