TheVaglia area has been populated since distant times, settled by the Magelli Ligurian tribes and the Etruscans prior to Roman rule. In the Middle Ages villages appeared that revolved around the earliest parish churches like San Pietro, which is when the urban structure began to be developed that is still found here today. The area, governed by a bishop since the fourteenth century, with the development of municipalities, moved under Florentine rule and was included as part of the Santa Maria Novella neighborhood and under the Lega di Tagliaferro with bordering towns such as San Piero a Sieve. Barely a century later, in 1551, the league was grouped with the vicariate of Scarperia and the fate of Vaglia followed those of the great families that reigned in Florence, including the Medici, until a French government was established in the area.
Vaglia is famous for the beautiful Pratolino Park of Villa Demidoff, founded on the remains of the old Pratolino Medici Villa, which was demolished in 1822. Once the estate had been purchased, the family of Russian origin appointed the old pages’ building as the new villa, expanding and restructuring it. The park, albeit changed extensively and made bare over the centuries, is one of the most beautiful in Tuscany, and its English-style gardens are probably the most important in the region. Giambologna’s famous Apennine Colossus is the park’s star attraction, a massive sculpture that dominates a small lake and never ceases to wow visitors. Another reason to visit the park is that it’s free of charge!
In Vaglia make sure you see the Church of San Pietro (noted in a document dating to 983), which is home to some important seventeenth-century paintings; the medieval Church ofSan Romolo; and the old Parish Church ofSan Cresci.
In addition, the town is a stop along the Renaissance Ring, a route that’s interesting for its scenery.
There are many residences in the Florentine area, in addition to that of Vaglia, which remind us of great characters of the past. The territory preserves wonderful Medici villas of UNESCO heritage, such as the beautiful Medici Villa of Castello, restored by Vasari and surrounded by a beautiful garden designed by Tribolo, home to the Accademia della Crusca.
In Florence, you can visit the Medici Villa della Petraia, transformed according to a project by Buontalenti who was commissioned by Ferdinand I. A short distance from Fiesole, you can admire Villa Medici, also known as Belcanto or Palagio di Fiesole, commissioned to Michelozzo by Cosimo the Elder.
On the subject of period residences, in Lastra a Signa you can find Villa Bellosguardo, home of the tenor Enrico Caruso and the museum dedicated to him.
One of the recurring events in the area is the characteristic journey on the Befana Train, the historic steam locomotive that departs from the Santa Maria Novella railway station in Florence and arrives in Pontassieve, San Piero a Sieve and Vaglia on the occasion of the Epiphany. It's a unique experience that charms both adults and children!
Finally, in the hamlet of Bivigliano, the typical Sagra della schiacciata is held in September, celebrating one of the symbolic products of the place that has both sweet and savory versions.
Typical dishes and products
Vaglia's cuisine reflects the food and wine traditions of the Florentine territory and, in particular, of Mugello. As an appetizer, you can choose from crostini with livers and fried polenta with mushrooms, or a tasty bruschetta with local extra virgin olive oil. Soups are typical of the area, prepared with seasonal ingredients, such as ribollita. The main ingredient for autumn dishes are chestnuts, used to make stuffed tortelli, and also desserts and puddings.