It is a kind of boundless green fan, the Mugello. Like a large, slightly curled leaf, it has its roots in Arnoemerges from the walls of Florence and then it opens radially on the hills just north of the city, embracing the wooded valleys of a vast, rich and changing countryside.
Almost everyone remembers it because of the famous circuit owned by Ferrari, considered the most beautiful in the world and the scene of great battles on two and four wheels, which make it the natural destination for many motor enthusiasts. But this is only the beginning. Because there is much more and more. Places full of traditions as ancient as they are sober, of identity communities, but a little secluded, of pearls of art and architecture not very accustomed to the limelight, which finally extend towards the Apennine hills.
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Those marked by the mythical passes that characterize the roadway of this deeply Florentine region, which has always been a land of transit and travelers: to the west it is limited by the Autosole, to the east by the State Road 67 Tosco-Romagnola (that of the yoke of Muraglione) and in the middle it is furrowed by the Bolognese (with the pass of the Futadear to the Mille Miglia) and from Faentina (with the legendary step of the colla), the authentic directions of the journey.
Journey to Mugello
In short, we find ourselves in a nuanced Tuscany, in some ways on the edge (and it is anything but a bad thing) of the more well-known and cartolinesque one. Or, if you like, in the heart of the shadow cone, bulky, but protective in its own way, projected onto the territory by an overly famous and popular capital like Florence.
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On this lung so intimately linked to the history of their city (the Medici and Giotto came from these valleys), the Florentines, and with them make the most prudent travelers, however, a great and silent trust. Both for the abundance of little-known places to visit in peace, and for the amount of good things to taste or do in the open air. Whether, in summer, due to the wide availability of an increasingly rare and sought-after good nowadays: fresh.
Here: having to find in the hottest months a further reason to escape from the urban boilers and take a breath of air in Mugello, that of guaranteed coolness is certainly not secondary. But we must not think only of adventures in the wilderness, among rustling woods and windy hills.
The lake of Bilancino
A “door and shop” with the racetrack (and with the Barberino outlets overflowing with big names, for fans of the genre) there is, for example, the Bilancino lake, the huge artificial reservoir created a few decades ago to stem the fury of the Arno and quench the thirst of Prato and Florence. It has become the beach, moreover enjoyable and well equipped, for those who stay in the city or are tired of the monuments and want to have fun in the open air with bicycle tours, kayak excursions in the naturalistic areas. Or, simply, take a refreshing dip in the lake waters.
In the name of the Medici: the villas
The Medici villa of Cafaggiolo, the favorite of Lorenzo the Magnificent (under restoration, therefore admirable only from the outside), is a stone’s throw away. The landscape context is impressive. UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture: it was designed by Michelozzo in 1443 for Cosimo the Elder.
Also the Medici villa-castle of Trebbio a San Piero al Setacciowith the majestic tower, it’s a stone’s throw away, or two pedal strokes if you prefer.
Whoever closes the circle of the Medici residences in Mugello (or reaches another of the places of coolness preferred by the Florentines) can descend the Bolog to the majestic from here Pratolino Parkdesigned by Buontalenti for Grand Duke Francesco I. Do not miss a look at the colossal statue of the Giant of the Apennines by Giambologna, complete with a small lake overlooking it.
Beyond San Piero, going up north, here is again not only the eastern offshoots of the racetrack, but the lively Scarperiawith the magnificent palace of the Vicars decorated with coats of arms (some of which are the work of the Della Robbia family) and its tradition of “sharp irons”: in fact, the knives considered among the Italians and the non plus ultra for the Florentine steak are made here, a specialty that improves these parts is obviously at home. In addition to testing the quality of the blades in the trattorias, the beauty is that they can also be purchased directly in the shops. The beautiful museum dedicated to them documents their history, flourishing already in the 15th century.
From Borgo San Lorenzo to Vicchio
It is enough to pass about ten kilometers, leaving the “branch” of the Bolognese and connecting with that of the Faentina, to reach another of the Mugello capitals, Borgo San Lorenzo dove, in the splendid Pecori-Giraldi villais based on Chini Museum dedicated to Galileo Chini, one of the fathers of liberty ceramics (just think of the Viareggio villas), who had the factories in Borgo between 1906 and 1944.
In the ancient local parish church you can admire a Madonna painted by Giotto, who was born not far away, near Vicchio. The artist’s native house-museum is located in the hamlet of Vespignanojust outside the town.
On the Painters’ Path
The funniest way to check it out is to reach it by following the charming Path of the painters, a cycle / pedestrian path in the green (about 15 kilometers) cut out between secondary roads, hamlets and magnificent landscapes. The Beato Angelico Museum of Sacred Art and Popular Religion (1395-1455), with the works of the other great Vicchiese master.
The food and wine of Mugello
Unthinkable, however, to leave Mugello without having tasted some of the typical specialties of the area, such as the aforementioned steak, cheeses and magnificent tortelli with potatoes. This can be done either by going into the vast network of real trattorias, where the substance still has restaurants on the form, or by purchasing the products directly on the farm.
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The cooperative is definitely within reach and on the palate The Fort of Vicchio, which produce and sell an excellent Tuscan DOP pecorino and Chianina meat from their own farms. In addition to the shop there are a refreshment point, a park that can be visited, a riding stable, a greenhouse and the first and only malt house (open to visitors) in Tuscany.
For those, on the other hand, who love driving by secondary roads and want to go far, the goal can only be The palacea Bruscoliin the municipality of Firenzuola, at the extreme border of Mugello: educational farm, organic farming, agritourism, shop. With the feeling of being near Frittole, the fictional country of the film We just have to cry. Even if here there is only to smile.
GALLERY DISCOVER the best of Mugello
In the photo, the Medici villa-castle of Trebbio, in San Piero a Sieve, with its imposing tower.
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