The Valdarno is a fertile land, and it especially delights cyclists and cycle enthusiasts! Riding between the municipalities of San Giovanni Valdarno and Cavriglia, for example, one can ride along the Via della Lignite, a circular loop named after a characteristic feature of the soil. Lignite, in fact, is a fossil fuel that, until a few years ago, existed within the large mining area of Santa Barbara. Its extraction gave rise to a scenic landscape that will accompany you for part of the trail.
San Giovanni Valdarno
The bike route along the Via della Lignite can begin in San Giovanni Valdarno, the town in the province of Arezzo where Masaccio spent most of his boyhood. In the same building where, according to recent studies, the painter spent some years, you can visit Casa Masaccio, a center dedicated to contemporary art. The museum also houses works by Alighiero Boetti, Alberto Moretti, Giovanni Anselmo, Alberto Garutti, Venturino Venturi, Mauro Staccioli, Marco Airò and Massimo Bartolini. Casa Masaccio has also become the venue for temporary exhibitions and often offers lectures, film festivals and concerts. The central Palazzo d'Arnolfo, instead, houses the Museo delle Terre Nuove (Museum of the New Lands), with an exhibit that tells the story of the building of settlements, which affected much of Europe in the late Middle Ages. Finally, it is certainly worth a visit the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a building that houses a large polychrome terracotta by Giovanni della Robbia depicting the Assumption, as well as a fresco on the miracle of "Monna Tancia," whose author, according to Vasari, is a pupil of Perugino. On the premises adjacent to the Basilica, is located the Museum of the same name, which brings together numerous paintings from churches and convents in the city and the territory.
Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni
In the hamlet of Cavriglia in Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni is located the Museo delle Miniere (Mining Museum), also called MINE, which aims to preserve the memory of the mining area through artifacts and documents. Excavation materials and minerals of various kinds, including a large block of lignite, as well as documents from the period, are on display here. The museum offers a multimedia tour to discover how a miner lived and worked, and educational activities for schools and children, with special workshops.
Continuing our journey, we arrive in Cavriglia. Here the Fineschi Rose Garden, considered the largest private rose garden in the world, with over 6,500 different varieties of roses, is worth a stop. Inside this extremely fragrant garden there are flowers from all over the world that have been collected since 1967.