Museums and Medici villas
We begin our journey at Scarperia, a piece of 'new land' established by Florence in 1306 which is home to the Palazzo dei Vicari. Here you'll find the Museum of Cutting Tools. On the descent towards Lake Bilancino, you can visit the Convent of Bosco ai Frati, which was rebuilt to the designs of Michelozzo and by order of Cosimo de' Medici. Inside is a wonderful Crucifixion attributed to Donatello.
In San Piero a Sieve, we find the Medici villa of Cafaggiolo, one of Lorenzo the Magnificent’s favourite residences. Continuing on this way, we eventually chance upon the Trebbio Castle
Borgo San Lorenzo - traditions and craftsmanship
In Borgo San Lorenzo, we recommend a visit to the Parish Church of San Lorenzo, an important Romanesque building which preserves a Madonna attributed to Giotto, and also to the Chini Museum of Manufacture in the restored Villa Pecori Giraldi, dedicated to the multi-faceted activities of the Chini family during the Liberty period. The museum puts on temporary ceramic exhibitions, loaned by other museums and collections.
If you are looking for clean air and a natural environment, you can explore, where it is allowed, the surroundings of the Casa d'Erci Museum of Rural Culture, as well as visit the farm itself, where all the tools and furniture of peasant life are on display. Take a little walk, an hour at most, on the nature path that goes through the wood, crosses the stream and then leads you to a picnic area.
The pearls of the Mugello valley
From Borgo San Lorenzo, start upon the regional Faentina road in the direction of Florence and, having reached the Vetta Le Croci Pass, take the right-hand road to the Convent of Montesario, which dominates the whole Mugello valley. The original church was built by the Servants of Mary brotherhood in 1241.
Nearby we find the Villa Demidoff and its park. The estate was bought in 1569 by Grand Duke Francesco, who entrusted the project of building the villa to Buontalenti. The palace and the surrounding buildings were destroyed by the Lorraine family, before the Russian prince Demidoff acquired the estate and turned the page house into a new villa. The park is magnificent, dotted with artificial caves and fountains, including the statue-fountain by Giambologna that personifies the Apennines. There is also the hexagonal chapel, supported by fourteen stone columns, with a lead-lined cupola.
Vicchio, the 'home' of Giotto
We then return to the valley of Borgo San Lorenzo, finishing the route in Vicchio with visits to the “Fra Angelico” Museum of Sacred Art and Popular Piety and to the house Giotto was born in in Vespignano, a hamlet between Vicchio and Borgo San Lorenzo.
In the land of Dino Campana
In Firenzuola we suggest a visit to the Pietra Serena Museum, which is found in the civic palace called La Rocca. It is dedicated to the excavation and traditional working of stone from the nearby Moscheta, where, apart from doing easy walks and horse rides, you can visit the 1,000-year-old Vallombrosan Abbey and its Museum of the Historic Landscape of the Mugellan Apennines.
Having left Florence, we head towards San Pellegrino, Coniale and Tirli, reaching Palazzuolo Sul Senio after about 30 kilometres on a fairly empty road. This well-preserved medieval town, crossed by the river Senio, has in its main piazza the 14th-century Palazzo dei Capitani, which is the seat of the Genti di Montagna Museum and the Archaeological Museum of the Upper Mugello. Not far is the 15th-century Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Nevi di Quadalto.
Eventually we reach Marradi, the town where the poet Dino Campana was born and lived. It has a noteworthy historic centre with important palaces, the extremely elegant, late 18th-century Teatro degli Animosi, and the church of San Lorenzo, which keeps some incredible paintings from the end of the 1400s by the Maestro di Marradi.