Fancy those reddish tiles on roofs that make Italian towns and villages so picturesque? Or those elegant orange and lemon vases which dot their Renaissance gardens? Both of these essential Italian elements are made of cotto, a type of traditional brick tile, which in Tuscany is practically synonymous with Impruneta.
A must for Chianti lovers, the town of Impruneta holds a basilica, built atop an Etruscan site, and beloved by the Medici family as a pilgrimage stop; contemporary “pilgrims”, on the other hand, still move through the area due to its position along the road to the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial. But most importantly, Impruneta’s “soil morphology is unique in the world—rich in iron and copper, among other minerals,” says Angelo Mariani, owner of Antica Fornace Mariani. “That’s why our terracotta is frost resistant: it is porous, it breathes. And it is beautiful with that unmistakable warm color: the Della Robbia brothers used it in their masterpieces and may have had a furnace here.”