Collegiate Church of Sant'Andrea in Empoli

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The Collegiate Church of Empoli, defined by Lami as “the main church of all the diocese after the Parish Church of San Giovanni” rose, according to tradition, at the time of Bishop Hildebrand in the 4th century, but it was probably built in the 10th century, on the site of a pagan sacred building, as a parish church (plebs), a people's church which had thirty suffragans and became a provostal church with the 1531 bull of Clement VII.

The white and green marble Romanesque façade, probably added in the 12th century at the conclusion of the church's construction, is an interesting example of the exportation of Florentine Romanesque, drawing on the celebrated prototypes of the Baptistery and the Church of San Miniato al Monte in Florence. The lower part, the most authentic, is divided by arches with geometric decorations below, that rest on semi-columns: the middle part presents triads of squares, culminating above in a gabled window, in line with the portal, a Renaissance work by Battista di Donato Benti, flanked by two squares on each side. The façade's current aspect, which over the centuries has undergone renovations such as the 16th century introduction of the portal and the alteration of the salient front into a hut-shaped one, is also due to a stylistic restoration carried out at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries with the re-assembly of the central window.

The interior hall of the church, spacious and solemn, was altered over the course of its history and was completely restructured in 1736 by Ferdinando Ruggeri, who modified the plan by destroying the side aisles. The roof was raised and covered by a trellised ceiling, frescoed with the Glory of Saint Andrew the Apostle by Vincenzo Meucci and with Giuseppe Del Moro's collaboration on the trompe l'oeil. This was later destroyed during the Second World War but was meticulously reconstructed, on the basis of photographic documentation, by the Empoli painters Virgilio Carmignani and Sineo Gemignani. The church's plan is enlivened by two oratories, once the seats of ancient companies. The first, to the left of the main altar, is that of the Company of the Corpus Domini, whose main altar is adorned by a painting depicting the Last Supper, a copy by Egisto Ferroni of a painting by Ludovico Cigoli, which had been transferred to the museum where it was destroyed during the Second World War. In the adjacent Oratory of San Lorenzo, currently being used as sacristy, there is the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence by Ottavio Vannini on the main altar, and the Glory of Saint Lawrence by Girolamo Macchietti, a work damaged during the Second World War and recently returned after a careful restoration. On the main altar platform, there is a very beautiful floor by Andrea della Robbia's workshop, which came from the Chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli and of San Sebastiano dei Salvagnoli.