The Pieve di San Leolino in Rignano sull’Arno was first mentioned in 1066 in a document of the lost San Pier Maggiore Monastery in Florence, recording its donation by Donna Gisla, the widow of Azzo di Pagano. Pope Pasquale II also mentioned the church in 1103.
Nine churches were dependent upon the ‘Pieve’ and in its turn, the Pieve was one of the 36 dioceses of Fiesole. It is interesting to note that the San Leolino Church was privileged enough to have a Baptismal Font.
St. Leolino was a Bishop who lived in the III century A.D. and was martyrised in Val di Sieve. In the 9th and 10th centuries it was probably the Guidi Counts (powerful, feudal Counts from the Romagnolo region) who encouraged the worship of St. Leolino when they took possession of the Casentino and Valdarno regions. This would probably explain the presence of four other churches dedicated to the worship of San Leolino in a rather small area: San Lorino in Monti (Londa); San Leolino in Val d’Ambra (Bucine); San Leolino in Conio (Castellina in Chianti); San Leolino a Panzano (near Greve).
We can see that the church has three aisles, divided by square sectioned pillars sustaining arches and terminating in three semi-circular apses, of which, the central one is the largest.
If we examine the structure of the Pieve, we can find characteristic architectural aspects, particular to the Ancient Roman period. Although the church has been recently restored, the posterior, the three apses, part of the Nave, and the lower part of the bell tower are dated from the original building. The upper part of the bell tower, which has four open arches surrounded by wedge-shaped stone of an alternate green and white colour, is very similar to the bell tower in the San Pietro a Ripoli church built at a later date.