The Monteferrato “Protected Area of Local Interest” lies within the hilly-mountain system delimiting the Florence-Prato-Pistoia plain in the north. The area was named after the mountain complex of Monteferrato, a pre-apennine spur formed by three peaks (Piccioli, Mezzano, and Chiesino or Poggio Ferrato) which reaches a maximum height of 420 meters above sea level. The area is characterized by peculiar geological features given by the abundance of ophiolithic rocks, which led to the formation of a unique biotope, completely different from the surrounding natural environments from an ecological point of view.
The metamorphosis of serpentine: landscape and architecture
The ANPIL of Monteferrato extends between the valleys of the Bisenzio and the Agna, on the north-eastern edge of the plain between Prato and Pistoia; it is becoming an increasingly significant part of the territory, with the implementation of strategies of management of its different landscapes through the development of the Landscape Program. The geographical sphere is distinguished by particular geological and botanical aspects. The ophiolithic structure of much of the ANPIL has given rise to the development of numerous endemic plants, specific both for their exterior appearance and for their chromosomic composition, also due to the presence of heavy metals in the soil, like a number of species of orchids.
The ophiolites are the main structure of Monteferrato.
In particular, the 'serpentine' – known as "the green marble of Prato" – has acquired particular importance for having been used for the construction of polychrome walls in the Medieval and Renaissance architecture of Tuscany and other parts of central Italy. Currently the area safeguards three systems: a Geological System to safeguard the abandoned quarries of 'serpentine' and palombini shales; a Natural System to safeguard the flora; and a Historical System to safeguard the Renaissance villas and agrarian landscape created by human settlements from the Etruscan period to the middle of the past century. A system of hiking and biking trails was recently reactivated by the management to facilitate the flow of visitors.