Chiesa di Barbiana - Vicchio

Over the hills and along the Sieve River

Treasures to discover in the Mugello area

We leave from Borgo San Lorenzo, the biggest town in Mugello and also the service centre of the territory, and travel towards Florence along the State Road 302, Brisighellese-Ravennate (also known as the “Faentina”). Once past the bridge over the Sieve River, turn left at the first intersection and go towards the town of Sagginale. Continue through the bottom of the valley along the Sieve River. The road is wide and the traffic is scarce. While on this road, which is sun-drenched in the summer, it is easy to imagine the way life was prior to industrialization. Traffic is far off, on the other side of the river, and the silence is broken only by the rare passing of a lorry or car, or by the tractors that move to and from the many farm houses that are still in the area.

At 4.1 kilometres from the intersection, leave the bottom of the valley and turn left towards San Cresci. Traffic is still almost non-existent, but the road narrows and becomes a gravel road that rises at first intermittently, and then constantly. The slope is steep and at some points exceeds a gradient of 12-14 percent making the use of lower gears a must. After 5.9 km, you'll come across about 100 metres of flat road that allows you to catch our breath, but the road soon starts to climb again, though a little less steeply this time.

At 7 kilometres from the start of the itinerary, hidden among the trees is the bell tower of San Cresci church. This means that we’ve almost reached the end of the uphill climb. In fact, just 300 metres further along, the road starts to descend. Villas and farm houses dot the landscape and time seems to move more slowly than in the city.

The pleasant ride, however, doesn’t last long because 8.5 km into the itinerary, the road begins to climb sharply again until reaching Arliano. After one more kilometre of gentle climbing, you'll arrive in Campestri, which is the highest point of this itinerary (461 metres above sea level). The fast and winding descent allows you to admire the breathtaking view of the Sieve valley and, further away, the town of Vicchio di Mugello. At 12.2 km, you'll find a fresh water fountain to refill water bottles and then, after 1,500 metres, you'll be back at the bottom of the valley.

Now turn left towards Vicchio. After a hundred or so metres, you'll encounter the road that goes to Barbiana, (5 km alternative route), the quaint hamlet which witnessed the controversial, yet greatly respected life and teaching methods of Don Lorenzo Milani. At 16.4 km, you'll reach Ponte a Vicchio and the splendid bridge that crosses the Sieve river. Continue towards Dicomano along a road that is scattered with some of the region's best wines and meats. The road is narrow but limited traffic allows us to enjoy this shady dale that lies between Mount Giove and the Sieve River.

At 23.3 km, just past the rural community of Bovino, which, as its name indicates, is characterized by the presence of stud-cattle, go left towards Dicomano (there is a water fountain at 24.4 km), which we reach at 25 kilometres from the start of the itinerary. You'll step back into present-day life as you cross the town of Dicomano and turn onto the state road that leads back to Borgo San Lorenzo. The 15 kilometre stretch that joins the two towns was part of the Spoleto – Scarperia stage (after crossing the Croce ai Mori Apennine Mountain Pass) of the 2007 edition of the Giro d’Italia.

The traffic on this stretch of road is rather heavy, but it is still easy to appreciate the characteristic Tuscan countryside. Once past the large “Il Forteto” farm, and the Balze di Vicchio (the crags of Vicchio) , there are sharp, yet effortless, slopes. You'll then reach Vicchio (34.2 km), the town in which the two great artists, Giotto and Beato Angelico, were born. Past the town, at 37 kilometres from the start of the itinerary, you'll encounter the road for Vespignano, where Giotto’s home still stands, and, three kilometres of flat road later, you'll reach the town of Borgo San Lorenzo.

WHAT TO SEE:
Borgo San Lorenzo

Here we can admire the parish church, a splendid Madonna attributed to Giotto, the Chini Ceramic Museum in the beautiful Villa Pecori Giraldi, Palazzo Comunale and the Misericordia Oratory. In the surrounding areas we suggest you visit: the museum of farm life and customs, Casa d'Erci, San Giovanni Maggiore, the Madonna dei tre fiumi Oratory and Marghieri Mill.
 
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Cycling