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The Church of San Donato

Church of San Donato, Castelli, ItalyThe Church of San Donato, located near the Italian town of Castelli, is renowned for its ancient and precious tradition of ceramic art.

San Donato owes its fame to the beautiful majolica ceiling which earned her the nickname "The Sistine Chapel of Majolica". The ceiling, made between 1615 and 1617, was composed of 780 tiles votive art castle, decorated with profiles, coats of arms, animals, astronomical symbols and floral patterns and bright colors.

Started as a country church by the Orsini family and assigned to a Benedictine friar, San Donato with its little porch attached to the front probably originally served as a haven to give hospitality to area shepherds.

At the beginning of the 16th Century, the church was enlarged and decorated. The Pompei Family, famous ceramic painters in Castelli, were hired and handcrafted the majolica ceiling of the church. Later these tiles, were removed and arranged on the ground before the altar. When the church was restored in 1968, the seven hundred and eighty tiles were reattached back to their original located on the ceiling.

Several of the ceramists who worked on the décor of San Donato are known: Filippo and Giovanni di Francesco, renowned mainly for their portraits and Stefano Cappelletti, who painted a large number of landscapes and animals.

Reproductions of these exquisite tiles which are still hand-painted in Castelli, Italy are available through Merchant of Prato

San Donato Tiles: Italy features exquisite ceiling tiles