Oratory of St Catherine of the Wheel at Ponte a Ema (Florence)

The 14th century Oratory situated in the beautiful Bagno a Ripoli countryside had been abandoned for decades prior to its restoration. Inside the Oratory there is a splendid cycle of frescoed wall paintings depicting scenes from the life of St Catherine, realized in the second half of the 14th century by painters of the calibre of Spinello Aretino, the Barberino Master and Pietro Nelli. The wooden components of the covering were restored and reinforced with metal prostheses, the extrados of the cross vaults was consolidated, the masonry of the perimeter walls was restored and, in some parts, micro-consolidated, the internal plaster work, the parts in stone (capitals, stairs and plaques) and the nineteenth century floor were also restored. The objectives of the highly specialized restoration of the painted decorations were to clean and consolidate the support and the paint film, eliminate any soluble salts and reattach any loose parts. Portions of earlier frescoes were found under the few whitewashed areas inside the oratory. New electrical wiring was installed for both lighting and heating: the decorated area was carefully avoided during installation (the wiring only passed through the floor area). The Oratory is now well known and frequently visited. The frescoes of the fourteenth century masters attract visitors as does the fact that the Oratory is an active cultural centre that hosts conventions, exhibitions and concerts.


Locality: Bagno a Ripoli (Florence)
Client: Municipality of Bagno a Ripoli
Assignment: Preliminary, Final and Executive Design Project, Project Management
Design Date: 1996 – 1998
With: arch. Giulia Cellie (Associata 2007- Giugno 2011), arch. Francesco Gurrieri, ing. Enrico Sodi, Studio Lombardini Eng.
Construction Company: Cooperativa per il Restauro scarl di Milano, Rangoni Basilio srl, Ditta Lottini & C, Brunetto Volpi


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