By bike along the Dante’s Roads in Tuscany
This itinerary, approximately 70 kilometer long, starts from Florence and plunges into the green of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines as far as Marradi, crosses those areas that in the early 1300s were the scene of events closely linked to Dante's fate, among ancient palaces and castles, Romanesque churches, streets rich in history and breath-taking views.
The path is part of a wider itinerary measuring approximately 200 kilometers winding through Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, between the Tuscan capital, the city of art par excellence that gave Dante Alighieri his birthplace, and Ravenna, where the poet spent the last years of his life in exile and where his remains are kept.
The Tuscan stretch winds especially through paved roads with average traffic, therefore for the most part it is recommended for experienced and physically fit amateur cyclists.
The short central stretch, between San Piero a Sieve and Borgo San Lorenzo, instead, includes a stretch on a dedicated and protected bike lane also suitable for families with small children and less experienced cyclists, starting from the village of Larciano and unfolds largely along the Sieve river.
In Florence, Borgo San Lorenzo and Marradi, the itinerary intersects the route of the renowned Dante Train, giving everyone the chance to create their own tailor-made Dante itinerary, alternating between stretches on the train and stretches to ride on a bike. In fact, both on the historic train and on the regional trains that depart regularly from Florence Santa Maria Novella station, it is possible to carry one's bicycle.
And that's not the end of it, the itinerary can also be discovered virtually on Google Street View thanks to the mapping based on 360-degree images made with Google Trekker. In addition, you can follow the route on Google Maps on your smartphone, stroke after stroke on your bike.
Our journey starts from Florence, Dante's hometown, in particular from the massive Monument to Dante Alighieri that dominates Piazza Santa Croce, at the foot of the Basilica of the same name. In the historic town center you can visit many places linked to the life of the Great Poet: the Baptistery of St. John, Palazzo Vecchio, and all the places of the historic town center also known as “Dante’s Neighborhood”. A good omen may be a passage to the Church of Santa Margherita dei Cerchi, where Beatrice Portinari was buried, the inspiring muse behind the Divine Comedy.
We leave Florence behind us along via Bolognese, climbing a slight elevation gain of a little over 300 meters as far as the Pratolino Park, nowadays a UNESCO heritage site. From here, the road stabilizes and continues mostly flat or slightly downhill until it reaches San Piero a Sieve, the first of the villages of the Mugello in this itinerary.
San Piero a Sieve lived its highest moment in the following centuries with the Medici, natives of these places, who built here Villa Adami, Villa Schifanoia and, in a dominant position, the Trebbio Castle, nowadays part of the UNESCO serial site "Medici villas and gardens in Tuscany.”
Check the first part of the path on Google Maps.
Check the following links and discover the first part of the path at 360° on Google Street View:
- Florence, Piazza Santa Croce
- Florence, Piazza del Duomo and Baptistery
- The view at the height of the Pratolino Park
- Immersed in the green between Vaglia and San Piero a Sieve
- San Piero a Sieve, the Parish Church of Saint Peter
We get back on our bikes to ride along a stretch of about 8 kilometers between San Piero a Sieve and Borgo San Lorenzo. In the first kilometers of the stage, we ride along Provincial Road 97, and then enter the “Eco-tourism Track Sieve Borgo San Lorenzo” at the height of the village of Larciano. The bike-pedestrian path, parallel to the Sieve river, leads us to the historic town center of Borgo San Lorenzo, for centuries an important crossroads along the Via Faentina and known nowadays as the City of Ceramics.
Don't miss a visit to the Pieve di San Lorenzo (Parish Church of Saint Lawrence) (inside, a Madonna and Child attributed to the young Giotto) and the Chini Museum, housed in the rooms of the Villa Pecori Giraldi, where the history of the artistic production of the Chini factory is told, including Art Nouveau-style furnishings in ceramic, stoneware and glass.
Check the second part of the path on Google Maps.
Discover the bike path between San Piero a Sieve and Borgo San Lorenzo at 360° on Google Street View:
- Along the Eco-tourism Path Sieve Borgo San Lorenzo
- In the historic town center of Borgo San Lorenzo, a view over the Clock Tower
After Borgo San Lorenzo we move forward along Via Faentina. The first part unfolds uphill for about 17 kilometers until we reach the Passo della Colla di Casaglia, the highest peak in ths itinerary, while the second part is characterized by a long descent leading as far as Marradi.
At about 7 kilometers from Borgo San Lorenzo we will cross Pulicciano where, in the days of Dante there stood the Pulicciano Castle, which saw, in March 1303, a fierce battle between the army made up of Florentine White Guelphs and Ghibellines and the Black Guelph army of the Florentine Republic.
There are now few remains left of the ancient walls of the Puliccaino Castle, while the important battle we have just described is recalled by a commemorative plaque placed on the facade of the Church of Santa Maria in Pullicciano, erected in the place where the castle is located.
Our itinerary continues and crosses Ronta, Madonna dei Tre Fiumi and Razzuolo. In the picturesque little village of the Madonna dei Tre Fiumi is located the ancient Margheri Mill, dating as far back as 845 A.D., which functions without electricity by harnessing water from the Razzuolo creek.
Once we conquer the passo della Colla, at a height of 913 meters above sea level, the road goes down towards the villages of Casaglia and Crespino del Lamone, to finally arrive at the last Tuscan village along this path, Marradi, a peaceful place crossed by the Lamone river, which flows into Ravenna.
Marradi is famous especially for being the birthplace of the poet Dino Campana (1885-1932) and for its delicious Marrone (chestnut). Downtown are located Palazzo Torriani, now a historical residence with works by Galileo Chini and Silvestro Lega, the 18th-century Teatro degli Animosi, and Piazza Le Scalelle, overlooked by the Palazzo Comunale (City Hall), Palazzo Fabroni and the Chiesa del Suffragio (Church of the Suffrage). In the Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Church of Saint Lawrence) you can admire the works by Maestro di Marradi, contemporary and similar in style to Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Check the final stretch of the path on Google Maps.
View it at 360° on Google Street View checking the following links:
- Madonna dei Tre Fiumi
- Passo della Colla di Casaglia
- In the green along the descent toward Marradi
- Crespino sul Lamone
- Piazza Scalelle in Marradi
After Marradi the path continues toward Emilia-Romagna. The remaining part of the itinerary makes a stop in the villages of Brisighella and Bertinoro to reach the town of Ravenna, and ideally ends in front of Dante’s Grave.
The 360-degree mapping of the route on Google Street View, the Google Maps route, the KML track, the photos and the promotional video were produced by Federico Debetto, a Google Street View certified photographer, on behalf of Toscana Promozione Turistica, the Region of Tuscany and the Region of Emilia-Romagna as part of the project Le Vie di Dante (The Roads of Dante).
Historical sources on the events related to Dante's life mentioned in the itinerary: danteinmugello.com