Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa’s small Gothic sailer
In an erudite collection of “unpublished news” about Pisa’s Church of Santa Maria della Spina, compiled by an illustrious archivist in the 19th century, “that very pleasant little temple, anchored to the bank of the Arno”, is described as having “light cusps, that set against the sky that dives into the marina, resemble the masts of boats that carried traders, spoils, and precious goods exchanged overseas”.
The small Gothic sailer – enriched by numerous works of art, including some attributed to Andrea and Giovanni Pisano – was built in the first half of the 13th century; at its “launch”, it was originally named Santa Maria di Pontenovo, after a nearby bridge (“ponte” in Italian) that later collapsed. Its current name is tied to a precious relic that was once kept here: a thorn (“spina”) from Jesus’s crown.
With its “infinite and amazing variety of small statues, tabernacles, and minute engravings”, this old vessel is ready to welcome aboard anyone in Pisa wishing to lose themselves deep in a sea of beauty.