The Oratory

In the garden of Volmiano is a very famous Oratory dedicated to San Giovanni Decollato, decorated with frescoes now attributed to the School of Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, dating from around 1495 and commissioned by Paolo Cerretani. In the early 18th century Cassandra Cerretani,the widow Capponi, enlarged the Oratory to protect the frescoes from the weather, having it made into a small church.

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Beside the tower, now the Villa di Volmiano, is a little 18th-century church built around the Oratory dedicated to San Giovanni Decollato. Of notable artistic worth, its interior is decorated with 15th-century frescoes dating from around 1495, now attributed to the School of Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio. The frescoes were commissioned by Paolo Cerretani and Lucrezia Martelli, portrayed at the sides of the central fresco depicting the Virgin and Child Enthroned. Paolo Cerretani lived in the San Giovanni quarter and was the father of Bartolomeo, who wrote the “Dialogo della mutazione fiorentina” [Dialogue of Florentine transformation], in which he explained the changes that took place in Florentine society during and after the time of Savonarola. In the 18th century Cassandra Cerretani Marzuppini,to protect the frescoes, had the Oratory enlarged and made into a small church. The Volmiano Valley, of great interest not only naturalist but also historical, religious and cultural, has two more small oratories, one in the Mattiano locality, the other at Loiano. Unfortunately, they have not been closed, and the frescoes have been lost.

The last of the Gondi Cerretani family was Angelo, a fervent patriot, who at his death was buried as he had wished in the Oratory, where he had had the wings of an angel and the halo of Jesus painted white, red and green, the colors of the Italian flag.

The Oratory is described in the “Itinerari Laurenziani” [Laurentian Itineraries] published to commemorate the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and presented in the traveling exhibition “Ghirlandaio. A family of Renaissance painters in Florence and Scandicci”.