According to the lists of tithes of the thirteenth century San Martino in Fognano depended on the parish of Villiano, now San Giovanni Evangelista. It is the first hamlet of Montale that you encounter going up towards the mountains. Official documents go way back to the end of tenth century, the village is frequently present in the lists of pastoral visits since 1372.
It is presumed that it was originally a small hospice built by the vallumbrosan monks of Badia a Taona who usually stopped in Fognano during their descent downhill. There is no sign of the ancient Romanesque architecture, except for the transom window on the south side of the belfry, that was increased in height and partially altered in the mid-eighteenth century. It is exactly in this century that the church underwent the radical Late Baroque renewal that now defines its structure and its finely decorated porch.
An odd little fountain/tabernacle faces the small square above San Martino. It is decorated with a mural that was painted 1934 by the artist Ardengo Soffici (1879-1964). The subject of the painting, clear tribute to Giotto, is an episode in the life of San Francesco, depicted while he is working a miracle, making water flow from a rock. This work of art was commissioned by the mayor of Montale, who had expressed his desire to create a trail of art that would accompany the opening of the public fountain of Fognano. The painting is one of Ardengo Soffici’s last experiments on mural painting and it is also the only public commission that he ever accepted. It took twelve days to realize it and the artist was assisted by Quinto Martini and Leonetto Tintori. The process was long and quite difficult, as it produced six preparatory sketches that to this day are very well preserved. This is an unusual and passionate testimony of Soffici’s art. He created “only for the love of people and art”, as is engraved on the plaque placed on the roof of the tabernacle.