By Gloria Chiarini
An evening in church at Impruneta
An evening in church at Impruneta A magic tour for the warm evenings of June. Only 14 kilometres from Florence, the route takes us through olive groves and vineyards surrounding Impruneta on the borders of the Chianti and gives us the chance to visit religious sites together with art and various performances until June 28th. Based on an idea by Sabrina Giuliani and the Impruneta Councillor for Culture, we can rediscover some of the artistic treasures in the area by following in the path of the ancient settlements and early mediaeval churches, some of which have recently been restored. The success of the first edition of the event last year, known as "The tour of the 7 churches", has led to the addition of two more churches to the programme, increasing the number of performances from 7 to 13, several concentrated in the area around Tavarnuzze, the second town in importance in the borough after Impruneta. The opening concert will in fact be held there on the afternoon of June 17th in the square. All the other events will be held at 9pm, transforming the nine churches into splendid settings for the concerts, ballet and theatre. The countryside around Impruneta is extremely beautiful and, when we explore this area, site of the early Etruscan settlements and later of the Romans, we find ourselves making new and exciting discoveries about our origins. Every corner seems to have some new surprise - be it landscape or art - in store for us. Many of its treasures, like the tiny churches hidden among the cypress trees and framed by the silvery colours of the olive groves, are hardly known. "This event - says Councillor Riccardo Lazzerini - gives us a chance to discover or rediscover all these wonderful places". One of these places is of course the Basilica of Santa Maria dell'Impruneta, a famous sanctuary and, this year, Jubilee Basilica; it was founded to host a miraculous image of the Madonna discovered "in prunis" ("among the brambles"), giving origin to the name of the town. The Basilica of Santa Maria, consacrated in 1060, has been altered and restored many times, especially after the bombardment during the last World War, but it still conserves its 14th and 16th century cloisters, an extraordinary Romanesque crypt, an apse of 1525 and the elegant outer portico, built in 1634 by the Medici Grand Dukes, who supported the church and, over the centuries, donated many of the precious furnishings and objects of religious art preserved in the Museum today (info 055.213729). The interior contains works by Michelozzo, Giambologna, Tacca and Luca della Robbia, who carried out his glazed terracotta masterpieces in the Impruneta potteries. The Basilica hosts a concert of Religious Music on Wednesday June 21st. The Church of Santi Stefano e Caterina at Pozzolatico, where the Impruneta Choral Society of Mutual Help performs on Monday June 26th is equally ancient and historic. The church can be found mentioned in documents from the year 1000; The village of Pozzolatico (from the Latin word "pluteum laticum" = water well, or "puteus oleaticus" = hill of olive trees), was situated near the great Consular roads like the Cassia; an extensive network of paths and wagontracks grew up around the village many of which met on the site of where the church dedicated to Santo Stefano was built after the spread of Christianity. Its second name, Santa Caterina, comes from St. Catherine de' Ricci (1522-1590), a Dominican nun and member of the family that ruled Pozzolatico from the mid 14th century. The Ricci family also rebuilt the church in 1737. The interior contains a "Madonna and Child" by that extraordinary painter to the Medici court, Alessandro Allori, dated 1582. The turning for the villages of Le Rose, Baruffi and Quintole, where we can find two more fine examples of local religious architecture, the Church of San Miniato at Quintole and the Church of San Lorenzo alle Rose, can be found just outside Tavarnuzze, near the motorway exit. Elegant and severe in its architectural design, the former can be reached along an un-made road; the 14th century interior is built on a Latin cross with fragments of frescoes of the same date: a performance of music and poetry with Flavio Cucchi on the guitar will be held here on June 17th. Mentioned in documents from as early as the 11th century (at Camaldoli for example in 1120), San Lorenzo alle Rose is even more of a treasure, even though it was reconstructed in the early 14th century. The bare simplicity of the facade and the outer stone walls of the sloping roofed structure show clear traces of the original 14th century building. The interior not only contains paintings by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio and Andrea Boscoli but also a unique work of art, a Madonna and Child that is now generally accepted as by Taddeo Gaddi (1320-1366), true heir of the school of Giotto. Two musical evenings will be held here: a clarinet quintet on June 20th and, to conclude the event, Gli Archi del 900 "Archea" on June 28th. Other appointments include a Choral Evening with the "Messa Creola" and Spirituals (June 18th), and a performance of "Holy Voices" with the Teatro del Dharma Company (June 22nd) at the Parish Church of the Sacro Cuore at Tavarnuzze; music and ballet with the ImagoLab Company and the "Violando" trio (June 23rd), at the Church of San Paolo alla Croce at Colleramole ), a 'cello recital (June 25th) in the Church of San Martino at Bagnolo and Ancient Indian music in the Church of San Gersolé (June 27th). Don't miss the chance to spend a wonderful evening in a unique setting. The staff at the Impruneta Public Library (055.2011700) will be delighted to provide further information and bookings on request.
Translated by Susan Glasspool