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Montalbano, Serravalle Pistoiese
Photo ©Toprural
Montalbano map


Art and nature walks and excursions

The hills where genius Leonardo da Vinci was born are part of a unique landscape that is identified with Tuscany all over the world.
They cover an area called Montalbano. Today, it is encompassed in the provinces of Florence, Prato and Pistoia, but, between the 16th and 17th centuries, it corresponded to a wide territory reserved to the Medici family as a hunting reserve: “Barco Reale”.
It is an ideal territory for lovers of “green tourism”, like walking and hiking. Using the extensive network of pedestrian and bicycle trails you can reach hillside locales immersed in the green, ancient woods, archaeological sites, unexpected works of art, ancient villas, parish churches and historical hamlets. It has always been a fertile land that is perfect for wine and oil productions; so excellent that the enogastronomic route “The Hills of Leonardo” Oil and Wine Route was created. It focuses strictly on genuine productions linked to this territory.
The first of these is the Chianti variety of grapes and the Tuscan “Montalbano“ IGP olive, but they also include honey, cheese, jams and medicinal herbs.
Montalbano encompasses a cluster of hills that branch off from the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, near Serravalle, separating the Pistoia-Florence plain from the Nievole valley.
The peaks of Montalbano rarely exceed 600m in altitude and often look more like rounded hills. The landscape is characterized by woods, vineyards, olive groves and cultivated fields. The hills are also the setting for villas, Etruscan ruins, chapels and churches; they bear witness to a history that can also be seen in the morphology of the landscape like the nearby Padule di Fucecchio and the Barco Reale, among the earliest examples of “nature reserves” created by man. Internationally famous hot springs and spas, like Monsummano, complete the range of geographical differentiation of the area.

The cuisine of Montalbano counts many traditional dishes like spelt soup, "papa col pomodoro," "farina di cavolo near," fried frogs (in the Padule area). Among the specialties are Lamporecchio’s "brigidini," which are crisp wafers that were originally created by nuns devoted to St. Brigit. The production of pork products is also one of the specialties of Larciano, yet Monsummano also produces excellent Tuscan salami, "finocchiona," salt pork ham and shoulder. For some time, the area has started to produce high-quality chocolate, and Carmignano is famous for its dried figs. But the entire area is above all a land of wine, featuring the native grapes of Chianti (Chianti Montalbano DOC, Vin Santo di Carmignano DOC) and olive oil. This is why the designation of geographical origin “Montalbano” is part of the name of the controlled origin of “Tuscan” olive oil.

There are four main itineraries for tourists in the Montalbano area. Firstly, those visiting the area will have to visit Vinci, along an itinerary that links Leonardo da Vinci's birthplace to Cerreto Guidi, not far from the Padule di Fucecchio and Lamporecchio. From Vinci, the road also travels towards Limite and Capraia, situated at the extreme border of Montalbano. A highly interesting road for its scenery is the one that travels from San Baronto to Carmignano, through the Barco Reale. Monuments attesting to the history of the area and breathtaking natural views characterize this route. The road then returns to San Baronto (a resort area loved by hikers and bikers) and continues towards the hills to Larciano. From there, it leads to Monsummano with its famous spas and hot springs. The fourth itinerary starts in Serravalle Pistoiese and continues down towards Monsummano, then to Quarrata and ends at Carmignano. Located on the north-east side of Montalbano, Carmignano features castles and the foothills that offer picturesque views.

There are many museums in the Montalbano area and any art-inspired itinerary should start with the Wine and Vine Museum in Carmignano and the Leonardiano Museum in Vinci. Similar to a museum is also the house were Leonardo was born, located in Anchiano.
In Carmignano, there is the local Archeological Museum, in Artimino, which displays interesting findings that date back to the 8th century B.C. In Monsummano Terme there is the Museum of Contemporary and 20th Century Art, called “Il Renatico”, the Civic Museum and the Casa Giusti Museum. A visit to the museum of the Medici Villa in Cerreto Guidi is recommended, as is a visit to the Civic Museum of Larciano, the Martini Park Museum in Seano and the fascinating Embroidery Museum in Serravalle.

Monsummano Terme, Larciano and Lamporecchio are also comprised in this striking landscape with their own places of indisputable value; combined with a warm welcome to cultivated visitors who know and love beauty.