The “Toscana Terra Etrusca” trekking route offers the chance to see important sites connected with Etruscan civilisation, through corners of the territory that are little-known but, from an ecological and cultural point of view, fascinating.
The Fucecchio-to-Fiesole stretch of this road, which covers about 72 km, begins at a junction with the Via Francigena on the outskirts of Fucecchio, and then crosses a characteristic tract of Tuscan arable land, with enormous vineyards, olive groves and chestnut woods even on the highest hills. Heading east, you find yourself at the crux of the journey, where visible fragments of history litter the archaeological park of Montereggi, the tumuli at Montefortini and the archaeological museum of Artimino. The section from Signa to Florence follows the cycle route along the Arno, crosses the historic center of Florence (home to the National Archaeological Museum) and leads on to the ancient Etruscan city of Fiesole.
Distance: 15 km
The route starts at Fucecchio on the Via di Ponzano, the exact meeting-point with the Via Francigena, and proceeds to the historic centre of Cerreto Guidi. Walking the path, you will reach the Medici villa there, which Cosimo I built has a hunting lodge around 1556. It is famous, among other things, for its singular access ramp, made in brick and designed in a zig-zag, reputedly by Bernardo Buontalenti. Leaving Cerreto Guidi, the journey continues to Vinci, where you can visit the Leonardo Museum and one of the largest, most original collections of Leonardo da Vinci’s models and machines.
Distance: 7 km
After Vinci, the next stop is the locality of Mignana, where you join the path that will take you to Pietramarina. The archaeological area here, which in the past was almost certainly a fortified Etruscan redoubt given over to religious functions, was a reference point for everyone, whether coming from the roads on the plain or down from the Apennine passes. Thanks to its central position between Artiminio, Fiesole and Volterra, it served as an intermediary between these Etruscan towns, keeping them all in contact.
Distance: 11 km
From Mignana you make for Montereggi and come to the nearby tomba dell’uovo (tomb of the egg). The remains of this monumental tomb, which was topped by an ovular monolith, attest to the profound influence that Etruscan and pre-Etruscan civilisation had on these parts. The nearby Etruscan settlement of Montereggi further supports this argument.
Distance: 12 km
From Montereggi the route leads to Villa Castelletti, in the municipality of Signa. On the way it passes through Artimino, where you can take a break at the Francesco Nicosia Archaeological Museum and discover the extraordinary finds from the Etruscan necropolises at Artimino, Prato Rosello and Comeana. Pressing on, you will arrive at the Montefortini tumulus, one of the most important archaeological relics in Tuscany, whose tombs, of which this is one, have yielded a wealth of funereal accoutrements. A precious cup made of Turkish glass has been dug up, along with a number of ivory objects, signs of the importance and the far reach of the buried families. Along this stretch of the road, at the junction between Via San Martino and Via di Pugliano, a 5-km long detour sprouts off towards the archaeological zone of Pietramarina.
Distance: 11 km
The route continues from Villa Castelletti and goes towards the historic centre of Signa, where you can visit the Antiquarium (inside the Straw Museum), the repertory of the local archaeological finds. You cross the Parco dei Renai and join the cycle path that hugs the right bank of the Arno and get to the Cascine Park, the gateway to Florence.
Distance: 9 km
From the Ponte all’Indiano, make your way towards Florence’s centre for a visit to the National Archaeological Museum. Founded in 1871, it is one of the oldest of its kind in Italy, and plays a vital role in the study of Etruscan art and civilisation, never mind its rich Egyptian wing. The bronze Chimera of Arezzo is a must-see, as is the Arringatore (orator), a first-century statue that depicts an Etruscan noble wearing a Roman toga. Certain Etruscan tombs, like the Inghirami Tomb in Volterra, are replicated in the garden, with its original urns reproduced in alabaster.
Distance: 7 km
The route starts to rise in Campo di Marte and climbs up to Fiesole, the ancient Etruscan city where there is a Civic Archaeological Museum and an archaeological site to visit. Once a necessary stop-off on the Grand Tour for interested Europeans, the museum has a number of Fiesolean finds on display, as well as from other Etruscan centres. The fascinating archaeological site covers an area of three hectares and includes a Roman theatre, Roman baths and an Etrusco-Roman temple.