The Church of Santa Caterina from Alessandria is located in the historical centre of Colle Alta (the upper part of the town), and gives its name to the district ‘Borgo di Santa Caterina’ and the square of the same name beside it. Documented from the end of the 13th century and transformed in the 18th century, all that remains of the original Romanesque structure is a side portal, interesting for the type of lintel made from sandstone ashlars set into a decoration.
The church has a ‘gabled’ façade with an ashlar portal, a triangular tympanum and a semicircular window above it.
The interior has a rectangular shape with ‘cross vaults’. The presbytery is raised and is preceded by an entablature supported by two columns.
Of great historical interest is the polychrome terracotta sculptural group depicting the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Zaccaria Zacchi, made between 1504 and 1506. In the palace opposite the church in Via XX Settembre, the home of the Lutheran humanist and theologian Aonio Paleario – burnt at the stake in Rome in 1570 – should be noted.
To the side of the church there is the Santa Caterina’s Square, one of the places where local people go for its shaded area and nightlife, especially during the summer. In the square there are benches under trees surrounding a modern fountain made in geometric shapes.
Events attracting tourists are often organised here, such as the Sagra della Miseria (Feast of Misery), which offers samples of traditional peasant cuisine.
Next to the square there are cafés and excellent restaurants frequented mostly by locals. Given the few parking lots in the old town, we suggest that those by car stop at the Bacìo car park and reach the square by the stairs next to it.
Church of Santa Caterina
Via Gracco del Secco
Santa Caterina’s Square
53034 Colle di Val d’Elsa (Siena)
Toscana – Italy