Lastra a Signa, on the outskirts of Florence, is a town rich in history, culture and nature, with a territory that stretches between the hills and the Arno-Pesa rivers. The town is ideally located for exploring this corner of the Tuscan territory, with its vast cultural heritage and landscape, which can also be explored thanks to a dense network of nature trails.
Lastra a Signa was initially occupied by Etruscans and Romans, but it was not until the late Middle Ages that it officially took shape as a town. Later the Florentine noble families chose it as a country location to spend part of the year. Indeed, the harmony of the landscape of Lastra a Signa has always attracted people of fame and culture, such as architects, painters, scholars, and, of course, its most famous guest, the great tenor Enrico Caruso.
The Enrico Caruso Museum, the first exhibition in Italy dedicated to the life and art of the Neapolitan tenor, is housed in the wonderful Villa Bellosguardo in which Caruso lived along with his muse Ada Giachetti, and his children.
The collection is made up of objects of a personal nature, such as letters, photographs, postcards, and props from his performances around the world.
For the pilgrims of the Via Francigena, the Hospice of Sant’Antonio in Lastra was built. According to tradition, it was the work of the great Brunelleschi. There is no certainty about this, but the loggia is undoubtedly magnificent, with its seven arches serving as a shelter for nomads and the needy.
Local legends abound in this area of Tuscany. There’s a place where history and myth intertwine, known as the Masso della Gonfolina, an enormous rock protected by magical beings like fairies, who have made this place sacred and resistant to every type of threat over the centuries, whether it be the tools of local stone carvers or the more destructive mines of the German army during World War II.
Lastra, as its simply called by locals, is surrounded by many small hamlets, each one of which is perfect for visiting, if only for the views to be found amidst the olive groves and vineyards. How can we not mention, for example, Malmantile, still encircled by its historic defense walls. The town, with its bizarre name, once strongly reclaimed its fortress, considering nearby Lastra was prepared to take on any attack.
This problem surely wasn’t an issue for the hermits that chose to isolate themselves at the convent in Lecceto, an admirable example of late-15th-century architecture that can be reached via a road dotted with tall cypress trees.
And who doesn’t know about Ginestra Fiorentina, whose name alone speaks of aromas and green hills? This is where an important hospice for pilgrims travelling the via Francigena was once located.
The Antica Fiera di Lastra is an unmissable event held at the end of summer. It has had over 200 editions and includes a Livestock Fair, exhibitions inside the Antico Spedale di Sant’Antonio, markets, street food, concerts and fireworks.
In the hamlet of Malmantile, the Medieval Festival takes place, with the characteristic Palio delle Contrade and processions of knights, ladies and brave archers.
The Florentine hills that are dotted with olive groves produce high quality Tuscan IGP extra virgin olive oil annually, one of the highest quality products in Tuscany..
In the territory of Lastra a Signa, you can find one of the very few snail farms existing at national level. Once cooked, they are prepared in various ways: Burgundy, stewed or Bordeaux style. Finally, here you'll also find the traditional cultivation of saffron, called "Zima di Firenze".