The beautiful church of St. Peter, dating from twelfth century, stands in the village of Gropina and is one of the most beautiful and important Romanesque churches in Tuscany. The name derives from the Etruscan word Krupina, that meant “people”, “country”. These areas were chosen by the Etruscans to the presence of several rivers including the Arno, but also because these lands were rich in hills that facilitated sightings of enemy attack.
In pre-Roman times it is assumed that here stood a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Diana.
The church is located on the ancient Cassia Vetus linking Fiesole to Arezzo, and is one of the oldest churches in Tuscany: it was mentioned for the first time by Charlemagne in 780 AD.
The Romanesque construction was built on previous buildings, perhaps even the ancient temple dedicated to Diana, and certainly an early Christian church and a Lombard one, of the ninth century, of which remains visible especially the beautiful pulpit. It is supported by the mysterious “knotted” columns, suggesting a link with the architecture of Comacine masters, and refers to ancient symbols, the interpretation of which is – according to Christian iconography – the union of the Holy Trinity. Others refer to the cults of Mithras, the symbols of alchemical fusion of elements, Nordic and Celtic cultures. Certainly, in the fascinating capitals of the columns, which divide the solemn basilica interior into three naves, we find depictions of Etruscan art, Lombard and Roman times.
The light that penetrates through the mullioned windows of the apse alabaster slabs, gives the majestic setting of an unforgettable charm.