The town of Impruneta in the Chianti region is best known for the production of terracotta and of miracles – not necessarily at the same time or thought of this way by the same people, I suppose.

impruneta_piazzaImpruneta is located on the Chiantigiana (SS222), a pleasant road that winds from south florence through the Chianti hills. Speed limits are 50/70km per hour and you might as well respect it and enjoy the views (there are plenty of speed traps to enforce it, and the curves can be dangerous). There is an ample parking lot as you enter town.

Below you’ll find some suggestions for a pleasant day in the area.

700 years ago, on March 23 2009, the guild of Impruneta kilnsmen was founded and recorded in a notarial act. The area has since been known for the excellence of its terracotta handicraft, both decorative and practical in function. To emphasize this history the town now displays very large pots at key locations, and parks are beautifully edged and ornamented by terracotta elements. Whether you’re just interested or if you want to buy some pots, it’s a great idea to visit some of the producers nearby (see below).

impruneta_madonna

The Madonna now conserved at Impruneta, by legend painted by St. Luke, was considered miraculous since at least the 14th century, when she was prevailed upon to protect Florence from the black plague. On various occasions through the early modern period she was processed from Impruneta to Florence, or simply kept in Florence. She was considered efficacious against not only the plague but also drought and floods.

The presence of the Madonna of Impruneta is recorded in archival sources in Florence. For example in the records of the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore, one finds a payment on Feb 14, 1429 (1430 modern dating) for a meal given to the church wardens [operai] when the painting arrived. (See source.)

What to see

The church and cloisters of Santa Maria dell’Impruneta: The church was mostly destroyed by bombing in WWII and was reconstructed in the Renaissance style, foregoing the baroque decorations that had been added in the 18th century. Two late 15th-century  “tempietti” were constructed by Michelozzo and decorated in glazed terracotta by Luca della Robbia. The left one houses the miraculous image, who is covered by a curtain. (The temple on the right holds a relic of the true cross). There is also a silver altar and some good quality 15th-century tomb sculptures. The richness of relics and art in this church attest to its historical importance.

cloister

The church has an annexed museum containing silver and other treasures, about which you can read here. To the right of the church there is access to two consecutive cloisters.

Visit a Kiln: There’s a list of terracotta kilns and furnaces that you may visit on the left hand side of this website (click each name for further information and websites).

Go for a wine tasting: the following farms in the area offer free wine tasting (list from the website imprunetacotto). Be aware that not all farms will have English speaking personnel. Furthermore, if you are tasting wine for free, generally you are expected to make a purchase. If there is a fee for wine tasting, you do not have to buy anything.

casadelpop

Have lunch: There are plenty of excellent restaurants in the area. If you just want a light snack to keep you going, try a genuine experience at the CDP Caffe’ , or bar of the Casa del Popolo. This large, airy and modern space has socialist roots dating to the 1950s. It remains a pleasant place to hang out and take in a fantastic view over the hills while you watch town elders play cards. There’s a huge terrace that is open as a pizzeria and restaurant at night. The casa del popolo also has an internet point that costs 2 euros per hour (open 7-23).

A bit out of town, the Ristorante Pizzeria I Cavallacci is a good spot for dinner and can accomodate large groups too (we often go there as a large group of friends). There is indoor and outdoor seating and an ample parking lot. [Address: via Aldo Moro 3, Impruneta; Tel.: 055 2313863].

There is a small Coop supermarket in Impruneta where you could also get sandwich fixings and picnic in the lovely park near the town center, which has various play areas for children.

 

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