10 of Our Favorite Places
Choose between Art, Traditions and Archaeological
With the immense popularity of Chianti wines, it is sometimes easy to forget that Chianti is in the center of Tuscany and was an important location for the artists that traveled from Florence to Siena to Assisi and Rome and back again. They left a large patrimony of sculptures, paintings and architectural beauties that grace the land.
The fun of these museums is that they are small, with a select collection of work - so you don’t need to spend an entire afternoon viewing painting after painting. But a short visit will definitely expose you to the skill and talent that grew in this area.
This is the perfect opportunity to learn about the history, traditions and culture of the area in a “soft” and enjoyable way. The diverse selection of museums will cover many interests as well as age groups and be the ideal stop between visiting vineyards, eating gelato and taking breathtaking photos.
If you are looking to incorporate something different into your itinerary, then make a note of the main museums in Chianti.
1. Museum of Sacred Art - San Casciano Val di Pesa
Where – Church of Santa Maria del Gesù, Via Lucardesi 6, San Casciano Val di Pesa (FI)
Summer – 1 April to 15 October:
Mondays–Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Thursdays-Fridays-Saturdays-Sundays 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
Winter – 16 October to 31 March:
Mondays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Fridays, 3 p.m.-6 p.m., Saturdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
A collection of choice pieces of artwork from the many churches in the area, particularly interesting is the varied selection from a noteworthy group of 14th-century panels that demonstrates the trends of the Tuscan school: Lippo di Benivieni, Jacopo del Casentino, Francesco Fiorentino, and Cenni di Francesco.
The church was destroyed in WWII, but since rebuilt and used to house the various treasures from surrounding churches. And not only paintings, there is also a collection of other pieces which are testaments to the rich cultural life in the Chianti valley and its churches.
2. Museum of Sacred Art - Greve in Chianti
Where – Via di S. Francesco, 14 - Greve in Chianti, (FI)
Summer – 1 April to 30 October:
Tuesdays-Thursdays-Fridays, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; Saturdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
Winter – 1 November to 31 March:
Sundays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 3 p.m.-6 p.m
This museum is houses a wide range of work including paintings, gold work and sculptures which are a clear testimony to the rich artistic culture that flourished in between Florence and Siena. The work dates from the 14th century and extends to the 19th century with Michele Gordigiani’s St. Rose. Easily reached by foot from the town center of Greve, it is a nice addition to your cultural itinerary.
Located in the town center, this former convent of San Francesco is a unique container for the art museum built in 16th century for the Santa Croce friars of San Casciano. Its varied past adds to its charm: a hospice, a prison and now a museum. You can include a visit to the museum walk strolling the vias or as you pass thru to hike up to Montefioralle.
3. Museum of the Treasury of Santa Maria dell’Impruneta
Where –Piazza Buondelmonti, 28 - Impruneta, (FI)
Summer – 1 April to 31 October:
Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
Winter – 1 November to 31 March:
Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
A treasure trove of unique items, the objects on display fall into three principal categories: jeweler’s art, fabrics and illuminated codices. Each category is filled with items of extraordinary quality, especially a rare example of patchwork from the mid 1400’s which was found after the near destruction of the church during WWII.
This territory is dedicated to the cult of the Virgin Mary, which means that the church, and thus the museum, are particularly rich in local artwork, gifts from wealthy patrons and an abundance of items that document the importance that this religious figure held over the small town of Impruneta. Best of all, it is only a short distance from the antique city walls of Florence.
4. Museum of Sacred Art at Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
Where – Via della Pieve, 19 - Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (FI)
Summer – 1 April to 30 October:
Saturdays-Sundays, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
Winter – 1 November to 31 March:
With the objective to conserve the artwork from the local churches, the local authorities established a museum on the first floor of the rectory of San Pietro housing several noteworthy pieces from the two Romanesque parish churches - both of which merit a separate visit on their own for their simplistic beauty. The collection includes silver works, cups, religious jewelry, paintings and examples of the famous embroidery from Tavarnelle. Other works worthy of particular attention are the Madonna with Child attributed to Lorenzo di Bicci, from about the end of the 14th century, and a series of six paintings done by Neri di Bicci in the 1470’s.
5. Antiquarium di Sant Appiano a Barberino val d’Elsa
Where – Strada di Sant'Appiano 1, 50021, Barberino Val d'Elsa (FI)
Summer – From April 1 - October 15 (including August):
Sundays and Holidays, 4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Winter – From November 1 - March 31, by appointment
It is particularly important because it included one of the few baptisteries in Tuscany, which over time has left us only stone columns. It includes exhibits from the surrounding arecheological sites such as Etruscan urns and the so called “pagan idol” dating from the 2nd century. The museum also features a number of paintings including “Virgin Mary with Child and Saints Giovanni Battista and Girolamo della Marca” by the Master of Signa and the canvas “Saints Sebastiano, Girolamo and Rocco” by Pollaiolo’s workshops.
6. Museum of Religious Arts in Montespertoli
Where – Pieve di S. Piero in Mercato, Via S. Piero in Mercato, Montespertoli (FI)
Summer – May to August
Thursdays-Sundays & holidays: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. & 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
Winter – September
Saturdays, Sundays & holidays: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. & 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
Many of the religious museums are home to a collection of treasures from the local churches which are no longer in condition to protect the valuable artwork once destined to decorate its walls and altars.
This particular exhibition includes work from San Piero in Mercato and San Martino, and San Giusto in Lucardo, neighboring churches in the Montespertoli area.
Of particular note is a "Madonna" by Fillippo Lippi, and precious vestments, silver objects and decorations.
7. Wine Museums in Chianti
Where – Piazza Nino Tirinnanzi 10, Greve in Chianti, (FI)Temporarily Closed
Greve in Chianti: This little wine museum was created by the Fallorni family the very same family which boasts of a historic deli with choice cuts of meat, cheese, and wines. Since Greve is one of the original members of the league it lends itself to educating the visitor to the various steps in wine producing.The walls that houses the Wine Museum have always been used as a wine cellar and its hallways and rooms, some of which were used as vats for the grapes, now tell the story of wine in Chianti.
Where – Via Lucardese, 74, Montespertoli, (FI)
April 1 to October 31 Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-12.30 /4:30-7:00
Montespertoli and the Centre for Wine Culture “I Lecci” is not just a museum which illustrates the study and research involved in winemaking, but also details the procedure used in this area from the cultivation to the harvest to the fermentation of the wine. Ask about the combined ticket with Museum of Religious Arts in Montespertoli. This zone of Chianti is rich not only in great flavours, beautiful sceneries and secret artistic treasures.
8. Contemporary Sculpture Parks
There are actually a few in Chianti, perhpas the most noted is the one located closed to Castlenuovo Berardenga. These two outdoor exhibitions include lovely examples of local and international contemporary artists in a natural and intriguing setting.
Where – SP9, 48/49, 53010 Loc. la Fornace, Pievasciata, (SI)
A - Since 2004, these 17 acres of virtually untouched forest have been the home to a collection of outdoor contemporary art. Plan for a relaxing stroll trough the trails and hills of the park and enjoy the colors, the textures and the sculptures that sometimes look as if they are part of the landscape or others that with their stark colors or modern material are a striking contrast to their environment.
Where – Via Ripa, 44 Montespertoli, (FI)
The park is open from sunrise to sunset including Saturday and Sunday. The entrance is free but only if you have a reservation or an official invite. See website for more info: Arte in Chianti
B - This park is set along an itinerary based in the west, near San Donato. It is designed so that you can stroll along the path and admire a combination of the incredibly beautiful Chianti landscapes while studying some of today’s up and coming contemporary artists: Giuliana Bellini, Riccardo Biondi, Ivano Vitali, and many other names (for a full list please refer to their website.)
9. Chianti Archeological Museum
Where – Piazza del Comune, Castellina in Chianti, (SI)
Spring/Fall – April and May / September and October
Every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Summer – June, July and August
Every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Winter – November 1 to March 31
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There are SPECIAL OPENINGS on the following holidays: November 1, December 8, December 26, January 6, and Easter Monday. CLOSED on 25th December and on Easter day.
BE SURE TO ASK ABOUT the Amici Musei discount!! Everyone is eligible.
Though often forgotten, the Chianti area has a long and diverse history which reaches all the way back as far as the Etruscans. In the Castellina in Chianti area there are several monuments that document the existence of this ancient population with tombs and ruins still visible in the open countryside as well as an exhibition that will help you recreate the lifestyle.
This is an excellent stop for families with children or even for those who are curious about the antique history (including that of the Romans), but perhaps don’t want to dedicate an entire day to the exploration. Ask about organizing a tour of the archeological sites, which can be done in your language at a very (very) reasonable prices. The staff is exceptionally friendly - normally proficient in English (upon request other languages can be provided for the tours).
A ticket in the museum will also give you access to the panoramic tower...well worth every single stair!
10. Museum Emilio Ferrari for Farm Traditions
Where – Via del Giglio 47, San Donato in Poggio For More Information: 055 – 8072338
Chianti was an agricultural community and it wasn’t all about the grapes and olives. Emilio Ferrari was an avid collector of all things that testified to the diversity of the farm traditions in the area. This small museum will appeal to all ages with its wide display of farm tools and typical household items from the over a 100 years ago.
Children will enjoy the exploration of strange and new items, and the older generation may even recognize several of the tools which are no longer in use. Test your knowledge of the farm traditions as you walk through this museum.