First mentioned in AD 966, the church was built atop the
stylobate of a
Roman temple, from which a
pietra serena pillar was incorporated into the church's north wall. There is also a Roman
decumanus running north–south that flanks the church. Moreover, findings of nearby
sepulchres indicates that the church was once an
early Christian site. The church occupies a prominent position in Piazza Mino, near the
Fiesole Cathedral. Due to an image inside of the
Virgin Mary it appears that the church is the site of the oldest instance of veneration of the
Madonna in the
Diocese of Fiesole, which would form the basis for "Primerana" in the church's name.
Santa Maria Primerana was expanded in the Middle Ages. From this period, the
Gothic chancel remains. A new façade was built at the end of the 16th century in the
Mannerist style. The interior was decorated with
sgraffito decor by
portico, which is constituted by an
architrave supported by columns of the
Ionic order, dates to 1801.
The interior consists of a single
transept room. The high altar was constructed between 1745 and 1767 by
 On the altar is a 13th-century tablet by Maestro di Rovezzano, which depicts the
Madonna and Child.
In the transept are two marble
Francesco da Sangallo. One dates to 1542 and is a Self-portrait of the artist; the other dates to 1575 and is a Portrait of Francesco del Fede. Also in the transept is a glazed
Andrea della Robbia's workshop depicting the Crucifix between the Madonna, St. John, Mary Magdalene and Angels. There is, additionally, a large, painted, wooden crucifix designed in the
Giotto school from the 14th-century, which is attributed to Bonaccorso di Cino.
The faded remains of frescoes on the walls are by
Niccolò di Pietro Gerini.