Regello is one of the cool and shaded towns closest to Florence, a destination loved by Florentines who are looking for a little relief from the city during the summer months, and also a perfect day trip. In the woods of Vallombrosa and the many churches and abbeys scattered around the municipality, travellers will feed their souls and, in the numerous rustic trattorie, they will be able to refocus their minds.
The area of Reggello is found on the Florentine mountain, towards the north-west side of Pratomagno and the Upper Valdarno. The current town of Reggello is probably the one which used to be called Castenuovo della pieve di Cascia as a result of two papal bulls in 1103 and 1134 and which was distinguished from the Castelvecchio di Cascia. Owned by the Guidi Counts, some Florentine Guelphs found refuge there in 1248 driven out by the ruling Ghibelline faction in Florence. After being passed under the leadership of the Florentine Republic between the end of the 13th century and the start of the 14th century, the castle of Cascia was fortified in 1385. Following that, Reggello got its current territorial structure in 1840 when the parishes of San Clemente and Santa Maria in Sociana were joined to it.
In the heart of Pratomagno is the fine Abbey of Vallambrosa, definitely the most recognizable element of the area of Reggello. The Abbey was built at the behest of San Giovanni Gualberto, a nobleman from Florence, who took himself and a few followers to a place which was then called Acquabella in 1036. From a wooden oratory, the community were able to build a stone church in 1230, while the monastery also grew. In the 15th century they added the large cloister, the sacristy, the tower, the refectory and kitchen, and after a series of fires, in the 17th century the Abbey got its lavish appearance that it still has today.
The other highlight of Reggello has to be the luxurious Sammezzano Castle. The main building has a bizarre beauty with an eclectic construction in a mostly Eastern style, an effect of the 19th-century restructuring of a large farm built in 1605 for the Ximenes D’Aragona family. The history of the place is a lot older, however, and dates back to the Roman era. Once inherited byFerdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona, the castle was completely redesigned between 1853 and 1889. Over the course of about 40 years the marquis planned, paid for and made Sammezzano Castle happen. It is considered the most important example of Eastern architecture in Italy. All of the bricks, stuccos and tiles were laid out on the spot by specially trained workers.
Among the other churches in this area, it is worth going to the Parish Church of San Pietro a Cascia, which is one of the most important ones in the Valdarno as well as being a Tuscan Romanesque masterpiece, both for the quality of the building and the architectural structure. Right next to it is the museum dedicated to Masaccio, where you can admire the Triptych of San Giovenale.