Beside the churches currently present in Vicopisano and its surroundings, we know by many documents that in Middle Ages this area was much richer in religious buildings than in our time. This was the expression of religious feelings, but also of a marked economic and social vitality. The most important church was the Pieve of Santa Maria (Parish Church), documented since the 11th century and located outside the Castle. It rose on a vast area called "Campo di Santa Maria" (Saint Mary's field), which belonged almost entirely to the Archbishop of Pisa and was used as the market place. Since the 13th century, the Pieve became the centre of a small built-up area located outside the Castle walls.

Since before the 11th century, the south coast of the Monte Pisano had been chosen for the location of religious buildings - mainly monasteries - often situated along lines of communications that passed halfway up the hills and were protected by vegetation. This showed the intent of the Church to spread the religious teachings in the country, at the same time keeping the territory under its control.