Museums of Chianti

Museums of Chianti

Museums of Chianti

Museums of Chianti

A guide to the smaller museums of the Chianti wine zone of Tuscany

Scattered through the territory of Chianti, there are a number of small museums, mostly of an ecclesiastical or folkloric nature, that are well worth visiting when you are in the area. These small museums often house exquisite treasures that once decorated churches and monasteries that are no longer extant or which have in fact been converted into museums. The small size of these museums makes it much easier to study and appreciate their treasures than is sometimes the case in the huge and sometimes crowded metropolitan museums. Don’t miss them.

San Francesco Museum, Greve in Chianti

San Francesco Museum Greve in Chianti
San Francesco Museum Greve in Chianti

This museum is housed in the former convent of San Francesco, up a short, steep pedestrian road from the centre of Greve in Chianti. It contains a modest collection of paintings, sculptures, vestments and sacred garments which provide evidence of the historical significance and artistic vitality of the Greve in Chianti area. One of the finest works in the collection is in its original position in the oratory on the ground floor. It is a large polychrome terracotta of the Pietà with the three Marys and Saints. This work of the Florentine School dates to the first half of the 16 C and is attributed to the workshop of Santi Buglioni. The room contains other works of interest, including: the Virgin with St. Lucia and Antony of Padua by Curradi, and the Virgin of the Rosary by Francesco Boldrini; a 14 C marble bas-relief of St. Francis and a Madonna and Child sculpture in painted stucco attributed to Nanni di Bartolo. On display in the sacristy are a number of sacred vestments (chasubles, copes, etc.); a rock crystal reliquary cross produced in the 13 -14 C; and a rare, painted-glass piece from the 16 C, a small window depicting San Silvestro the Benedictory Pope, probably executed from a design by Francesco Granacci. On the first floor, there are panels and canvases dating from the 14 C to the 19 C. These include works by Francesco Granacci and Jacopo Vignali.

The gold-work section includes sacred items from the 16 C to the 19 C, including a 16 C thurible and censer and the 17 C Reliquary of San Canziano from the Badia di Montescalari. In addition to the museum, the former convent complex also houses an archive and a room for temporary exhibitions.

Opening hours:
Winter Thu – Fri 10 am – 1 pm and Sat – Sun 3.30 pm – 6.30 pm
Summer Thu – Fri 10 am – 1 pm and Sat – Sun 4 pm – 8 pm.

More about the Sacred Arts Museum in Greve.

Museo Arte Sacra of San Casciano Val di Pesa

The museum is in rooms belonging to the church of Santa Maria del Gesù in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, and the first section consists of the rectangular hall of the church itself, where the original works are still in place, including a Madonna and Child by Lippo di Benivieni from the second decade of the 14 C. Works from other places of worship in the area include: the wooden Crucifix in the apse, a 14 C Siennese work; a 16 C painting depicting San Rocco, San Sebastiano and Sant’Antonio Abate, attributed to the Master of Tavarnelle; and the Incoronation of the Virgin by Neri di Bicci. The finest works are in the sacristy adjoining the church, in particular two paintings from the church of San Vico l’Abate, early works of Italian figurative culture: the altar-frontal with St. Michael the Archangel, attributed to Coppo di Marcovaldo and dating to the mid-13 C, and the Madonna and Child by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, dated 1319.

Museo Arte Sacra of San Casciano Val di Pesa
Museo Arte Sacra of San Casciano Val di Pesa

In the same room, there are some fine gold-background 14 C panels including: the Madonna and Child by the Master of the Horne triptych; various works on the same subject by Jacopo del Casentino, Master Francesco, Cenni di Francesco, the Master of Sant’Jacopo a Mucciana; and a painted cross attributed to the Master of San Lucchese and produced at the beginning of the 15 C. In front of the steps leading to the upper floor there is a polychrome marble statue attributed to Gino Micheli and dating to 1341.

In the final room, given over to liturgical vestments, there is a thurible and five processional crosses dating from the 14 C -15 C, two chasubles of Florentine manufacture executed between the 15C and the 16C, and a fine 18 C French cope.

More details of the art displayed in the San Casciano Museum of Sacred Art.

Opening hours:
Winter Sat 4.30 pm – 7 pm and Sunday plus public holidays 10 am – 12.30 pm and 4 pm – 7 pm
Summer Sat 5 pm – 7.30 pm and Sunday plus public holidays 10 am – 12.30 pm and 4.30 pm – 7.30 pm

Museo di Santa Maria sul Prato (della Misericordia) of San Casciano val di Pesa

This museum contains a fine collection of art works gathered over the course of time by the Compagnia della Misericordia and housed inside the Church of Santa Maria sul Prato. The paintings worthy of note include three 14 C panels by Ugolino di Nerio depicting the Madonna and Child, St. Peter and St. Francis, and the Crucifix by Simone Martini. On the right wall of the church there is a marble pulpit from the middle of the 14 C, an important work by Giovanni di Balduccio.

Pieve di San Leolino a Panzano

This splendid Romanesque country parish church is situated on a rural hilltop across a shallow valley from the remains of Panzano castle in the centre of the town. It houses an interesting collection of pictorial and sculptural works, including two tabernacles attributed to Giovanni della Robbia, a 13 C altarpiece attributed to Meliore, a triptych with the Madonna, the Child and four Saints by Mariotto di Nardo and the Madonna and Child with St. Peter and St. Paul by the Master of Panzano.

More about the Pieve di San Leolino.

Museum of Sacred Art of Montespertoli

The Museum of Sacred Art of Montespertoli is located inside the parish church of San Piero in Mercato and groups together the works from the local churches.

In the hall there are paintings and silverware from the parish of San Piero in Mercato, such as the Madonna and Child Enthroned and the Saints Antonio Abbot and Giuliano Martyr by Neri di Bicci, a refined Della Robbia terracotta of San Gerolamo in the desert.

Montespertoli Museum of Sacred Art
Madonna with Child by Filippo Lippi

A large number of works of art also come from the churches of Santa Maria a Mensola, San Giusto, San Giorgio and San Lorenzo in Montalbino. These include a triptych by Cenni di Francesco dated 1400, the small Madonna by Andrea di Giusto, an eclectic painter of the 15 C influenced by Masaccio and Beato Angelico and the two tables of the Siennese School and the Florentine School. There is also a 14 C depiction of San Lorenzo and the Madonna and Child between Saints Giorgio and Nicola da Bari, from the 15 C.

More about the Museum of Sacred Art of Montespertoli.

Museo di Arte Sacra of Impruneta

The Impruneta Museum of Sacred Art is housed in rooms adjoining the Basilica of Santa Maria in Impruneta. It consists of three main sections: illuminated manuscripts, gold and silver work and sacred vestments relating to the basilica, which in the course of its history has been the beneficiary of many fine donations, some of which were from the Grand Duchy.

The silverware collection is in the Sala Silvani, where there is a display of precious silver and gold items, many of which are arranged according to type. The most significant pieces are: a partially gold-plated and enamelled silver-lamina processional cross, attributed to Lorenzo Ghiberti (1425 ca.); two silver patens attributed to Antonio di Salvi (1515); and a collection of rock crystal objects, four candlesticks with a cross-holder and cross given to the Virgin of Impruneta by Cristina of Lorraine in 1633. On the left-hand wall of the same room there is the 15 C bas-relief depicting “The Finding of the Icon”, which evokes the episode that lies at the origin of the worship of the Madonna of Impruneta.

In the manuscript section there are eleven valuable illuminated codexes, seven from the 14 C and four from the 15 C, including: a gradual attributed to Lippo di Benivieni (ca. 1310 – 20); an antiphonary from the mid-15th century decorated by an illuminator influenced by Orcagna; and three 15th-century manuscripts illuminated by Antonio di Girolamo.

Maestro delle Effigi Domenicane, Morte e Assunzione della Vergine (cod. VI) Impruneta
Maestro delle Effigi Domenicane, Morte e Assunzione della Vergine

The section devoted to liturgical vestments consists of a collection of very fine sacred vestments that includes unique items such as the “capes” used for the venerated image of the Virgin.

Opening hours: Wed – Fri 10 am – 1 pm. Sat – Sun 10 am – 1 pm and 4.30 pm – 8 pm.

More about the Treasure of Santa Maria at Impruneta.

Basilica di Santa Maria of Impruneta

Basilica of Santa Maria at Impruneta
Basilica of Santa Maria at Impruneta

A visit to the museum can easily include a visit to the basilica, which has been restored and renovated a number of times over the centuries and embellished with some fine works of art. There are enamel terracottas by Luca della Robbia in the chapels which were designed by Michelozzi, on each side of the presbytery, and there are some 17 C paintings including “The Nativity of the Virgin” by Passignano, “The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian” by Matteo Rosselli and “The Vocation of St. Peter” by Jacopo Chimenti known as Empoli.

More about the Basilica of Santa Maria at Impruneta.