Chiesa di Sant’Ermete (Forte dei Marmi)

The church of Sant’Ermete is the main place of Catholic worship in Forte dei Marmi, in Versilia, seat of the homonymous parish belonging to the archdiocese of Pisa.

Around 1870 according to Agostino Neri there was an enlargement of the church, which according to Giorgio Giannelli should be understood as a total makeover; the project was entrusted to the engineer Enrico Andreotti, the works were led by the master mason Prospero Bandini.

The church, built at the expense of the inhabitants of the area, was initially subjected to the jurisdiction of the church of Querceta and had Don Benedetto Tommasi da Pontestrada as its first officiating chaplain. It was inaugurated on the occasion of the marriage between Roberto Raffaetà and Luisa Cesarali. Later, also in this case at the expense of the premises, a rectory with five rooms was added.

In 1885 the foundations of the bell tower were laid, built in concrete; Pozzolana from Naples was also used. After raising the first 4 m, the works stopped due to running out of money needed to continue. The commission in charge of the work asked for the contribution of the Mutual Aid Society, but the president Vittorio Giorgini rejected the request as “contrary to the purpose for which our society was established” (July 1, 1888) and, in the vote that followed, the Society’s assembly agreed with Giorgini’s opinion by 34 votes to 11. Subsequently the Society opposed other denials: on 15 March 1891 the votes in favor of allowing a charity party to be organized in the Society hall in the summer were only 8; on 3 May of the same year, the assembly approved the resignation as meritorious member of Don Raffaello Galleni, requested by the president Alessandro Giorgini (Vittorio’s brother), by 27 votes to 4, and rejected the proposal for a contribution of 50 lire to the construction of the bell tower by 26 votes to 17.

The construction of the bell tower was resumed in 1890 under the direction of Lorenzo Apolloni and his brother, the master builder Pietro Apolloni, assisted by the engineer Enrico Andreotti, and was completed in 1891; according to Agostino Neri the bell tower cost 8,000 lire, “without taking into account the free work done by the people”, while the four bells and the clock cost 5,600 lire. The bell tower of the church is the oldest still existing bell tower in the western Versilia plain, given that those of many towns were demolished by the Germans in 1944.

On June 28, 1911 the church of Sant’Ermete was elevated by Cardinal Pietro Maffi to a “Parish in its own right under the title of S. Ermete martyr”; according to don Giuseppe Mattei in June of that year the town had reached 3150 inhabitants.

Under don Raffaello Galleni in 1916 the works for the construction of the two side naves began, completed around 1923.

In 1999 a new pipe organ was built by the Marin Brothers to replace the previous one, dating back to 1920; the instrument, with electronic transmission, has 56 registers on three manuals and pedal, and is divided into two bodies: the main one on the counter-façade choir loft; the choral one on the floor in the ambulatory.