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Museum of the Treasure of Santa Maria in Impruneta


The museum conserves an important patrimony of gold works, textiles, vases and reliquaries

The Museum of the Treasure of Santa Maria in Impruneta is located inside the porch of the medieval basilica of the same name; the museum conserves several objects of sacred art that were collected inside the church over the years.

There’s also a rich collection of illuminated choir books in the museum, dated to between the 14th and 16th centuries and attributed to Lippo di Benivieni and Pacino di Bonaguida. Then there’s the display of textiles, with decorated chasubles and cushions from the 1400s, as well as numerous terracotta works like votive plaques.

Treasure of Santa Maria in Impruneta
Treasure of Santa Maria in Impruneta - Credit: Sailko

The great treasure of the museum, however, is the icon of the Impruneta Virgin, a panel painting from the 12th century that depicts a Madonna and Child, surrounded by numerous stories of miracles. Very much venerated by locals and Florentines, the painting is a pilgrimage destination and object of worship, earning the basilica a reputation as a genuine sanctuary. The painting is conserved in the Basilica of Santa Maria, but in the past, it was often brought out for processions. One of the most memorable of these outings was in Florence in 1630, when it was hoped that the Madonna would bring an end to a terrible plague. This guaranteed numerous offerings and precious donations that are on display in the museum today.

Many of the objects in the museum are linked to this painting, like a low-relief that narrates the work’s discovery, the finishing touches of the altar donated by Christina of Lorraine as a votive offering at the end of the epidemic and a few priceless mantles donated by private citizens to cover the venerated Virgin.

Amongst the other pieces from the Treasure that stand out are some silver works, like a processional cross from the 13th century, a piece attributed to Lorenzo Ghiberti and a 17th-century reliquary donated by Maria Maddalena of Austria, which is believed to hold pieces of the True Cross.