Arriving in San Piero a Sieve, you are welcomed by one of the greatest sights for sore eyes in all the Mugello. The valley that cradles the town is closed off to the north by a green mantle of beech trees, silver fir and Scots pine in the Emilio-Tuscan range of the Apennines; to the south by the spurs of the mountains which curve round towards the Florentine basin; to the west by the mountains of Vernio and Calvana; and to the east by the Alps of San Benedetto and Falterona, where the Arno originates. In the heart of this area, in a landscape of great importance, there is the medieval town through which the Sieve, a lively tributary of the Arno, crosses the Mugello plain.
Founded in the 11th century, close to the bridge over the Sieve and around the people's Church of San Pietro, the town grew along the intersection of the ancient road of Cafaggio and piazza Colonna (the government centre of the town) on the side of a hill overlooked by the Fortress of San Martino, to which it was connected by a handful of houses around the Romanesque parish church. The old centre of San Piero is still intact and represents the most vital part of the town.
The bridge over the Sieve has always played a major role in the development of the town, which was founded as a knot of streets for those who, having crossed the river, were directed across the via Bolognese towards the del Giogo pass. It has always been a busy meeting-point of roads, and this status as a crossroads defines the history of the Mugellan town. The Florentine Republic, recognising the strategic value of the bridge, financed its repair in 1372. Thus a brick structure was erected, replacing the stone and wood which until then had allowed people to cross the river.
The Parish Church of San Pietro is one of the oldest parish churches in the Mugello. The current building, which dates back to the middle of the 12th century, was probably built upon an earlier construction, given that the church was already recorded in a document from 1018. The church upholds the architectural rules of the Romanesque era, which was broadly typical across the Florentine countryside in the 11th and 12th centuries. The church and the canon hold some valuable artworks, such as the baptismal font in glazed terracotta attributed to Giovanni della Robbia. In front of the church you can see the Oratory of the Compagnia, in the location where, after 1275, the town's old hospice operated. You should also visit the Convent of Bosco ai Frati - one of the oldest monasteries in Tuscany – home to a Sacred Art Collection, including a Crucifixion by Donatello. Finally, you must not miss the Medici Villa of Trebbio, listed along with the other Medici villas as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a little extra merit for being the closest to the famous Tuscan family's original home.