Impruneta is a beautiful town located at the beginning of the Chianti hills in the province of Florence, which is about 17 km away. Already in Etruscan times, the sixth century BC, where Impruneta is today there was a place of worship.
AN IMPORTANT SANCTUARY
But the history of the town itself dates back to the Middle Ages (11th century), when the current Basilica of Santa Maria was founded following the discovery of the sacred image of the Madonna. The construction of the sanctuary caused a great development of the surrounding town with the birth of an important market, subsequently Impruneta was at the head of one of the 72 leagues of the Florentine countryside.
The Fiera di S. Luca, which for centuries was one of the most important cattle fairs in Tuscany, remains a reminder of its ancient role as a market. The expansion of the city of Florence greatly influenced the history of Impruneta, in the 12th century the Florentines destroyed the fortress of Montebuoni, controlled by the Buondelmonti family which dominated the entire town.
Impruneta therefore became permanently part of the Florentine territory, as part of the Galluzzo podesta office. Starting from the 14th century, thanks to the extremely favorable nature of the terrain, the art of “Cotto” (a ceramic building material suitable for coating obtained from a particular treatment and cooking of the clay) developed, for which Impruneta is still famous throughout the world.
In July 1944 the town was heavily bombed, suffering numerous casualties among the population and extensive damage to the structures. Among these, the Basilica of Santa Maria was also damaged, in fact, many of the decorations that could be seen on the ceiling have been lost. Only in 1929 was the Municipality of Impruneta formed.
THE BASILICA OF SANTA MARIA
The Basilica of Santa Maria all’Impruneta is the most important historic building in the town, it is located in the center of the town, in Piazza Buondelmonti, on one side of the Basilica are the Loggiati del Pellegrino, built between 1643 and 1670. The interior of the Basilica has a nave and preserves works of considerable value including a Nativity of the Virgin by Passignano (1602), a Calling of St. Peter by Jacopo Chimenti da Empoli (1606) and two aedicule attributed to Michelozzo and decorated with terracotta glazed by Luca della Robbia which preserve the relics of the True Cross (the one on the right), and the image of the Madonna dell’Impruneta (the one on the left).
Very interesting is the museum of the Treasure of Santa Maria (Museum of Sacred Art) which collects illuminated manuscripts, gold and other material from the Basilica.
Nearby is an important American war cemetery, the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial.