For those who come from Arezzo and get to Loro Ciuffenna through the street Setteponti Levante, the Parish Church of Gropina will appear at their top right a little before entering the village. It is surrounded by a typical Tuscan agricultural context, which means a hill covered with olive trees and oaks, with some cypress here and there. This already is a nice and unusual presentation for such an important Tuscan parish church declared a National Monument. In order to get there, it is necessary to arrive first to Loro Ciuffenna. From here, after one kilometre on a narrow street, we will get to this very beautiful church dating back to the 12th century.
The Parish Church of Gropina is quite closely surrounded by the buildings of the homonymous village, which makes it less admirable from the outside. Its apsis, which overlooks the agricultural lands, is one of extraordinary beauty and interest. The refinement of this architectural element, and therefore the working artistic and economic efforts that were necessarily involved in its construction in the 12th century, is the obvious proof that this parish church had been built in order to assume great importance on the territory.
The shape of its facade indicates that the internal architecture of the church, which we are going to visit, will be composed of a nave and two side aisles, in other words this is typical of other Romanesque parish churches located in the area of Valdarno traversed by the Strada Setteponti. As soon as we enter, we find two rows of columns that divide the nave and the side aisles and sustain the seven vaults. Between the base of these last ones and the top of the columns there are elegant capitals. The little light that illuminates the church comes from narrow windows, situated only on the facade and on the counterposed apsis wall.
A few meters away from the entrance door, our attention will be captured by an "out of its time" architectural element. This element was not inserted after restoration works, as many of those we find in other churches. On the contrary, it is an element way older than the Romanesque structure of the church itself. It is an extraordinary pulpit of Lombard workmanship. Thus, this tells us without the need of any written document that the origins of the Parish Church of Gropina are not Romanesque, but much older. This pulpit makes us understand that we overlooked the 8th-9th century, but the reality is still different: research and archaeological excavations tell us that an Early Christian church, dating back to either the end of the 6th century or the beginning of the 7th century, had previously existed on this site. The interesting result of these excavations are visible to the visitors by descending under church. In order to access this area, you need to have the little gate opened by the watchperson.