Pisa, Italy

Museum of Sinopie

Although often overlooked by visitors, the Museum of Sinopie is a real treasure trove for the art lover. The 'sinopias' housed here are artistic jewels; they are some of the few preparatory fresco graphics to survive from the early Middle Ages.

When frescoes were being designed and worked, sinopias or outlines were traced out onto a layer of plaster. The name comes from the red pigment used for the outline.

The sinopias housed in the Museum of Sinopie were the sketches and outline plans for the grand frescoes that decorated the walls of the Camposanto or Monumental Cemetery in the Piazza dei Miracoli.

The existence of the sinopias only came to light after a WWII bombing raid destroyed much of the cemetery. Post-war, an attempt was made to rescue the surviving fragments of the frescoes and they were carefully detached from the cemetery walls. It was during this process that the long-hidden preparatory sketches were discovered.