This basilica/sanctuary stands on the site of an Etruscan-Roman sanctuary. In the high middle Ages a church was built on the same site.
The early Romanesque parish church was consecrated in 1060. According to tradition, S. Luca himself painted the picture of the Virgin hosted in the sanctuary, a place of pilgrimage since the 14th c. In order to host a growing number of followers, the structure was expanded and rearranged between the late 14th c. and the following century.
What was obtained was therefore a single internal hall culminating in a polygonal apse. Two cloisters were also built, along with a fortification system featuring angular towers, removed in the 17th c. during a new series of rearrangements. In the prospectus was built a doorway to celebrate the end of the plague, cleansed, according to folklore, by the Madonna of the Impruneta.
The basilica’s interiors were revised following the tenets of Baroque style, but a complete restoration to its Renaissance form was made necessary by World War II bombardments. Through the doorway, designed by Gherardo Silvani for the facade (1643), you can enter the aisle, whose sidewalls are decorated with 17-18th c. canvas.
The presbytery area hosts a Romanesque altar, surmounted by a polyptych depicting the Madonna with Child and Apostles (P. Nelli, N. di Pietro Gerini, '300). At its sides you can see the Chapel of the Cross, the Chapel of the Madonna and two tabernacles by Michelozzo, containing many terracotta by Robbia.
The small temple on the right still hosts the sacred picture of Mary, painted in the 18th century over the original, of the 13th century. The Romanesque crypt, the Company of s. Sebastiano and the cloisters are also of considerable interest.
For any information:
Santuario di S. Maria dell'Impruneta
Impruneta - Piazza Buondelmonti (055 2011054).
Open 10am-1pm Sat, Sun 3-6.30pm.
Admission: 3 euro.