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Famous for its history, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. Appreciated by millions of tourists from all over the world for its culture, architecture and monuments, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.

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 SORROUNDINGS AND A BIT 

 

Around Florence, stretch out sweet, rolling lands, rich in natural beauty and history. Over the centuries, between 1100 and 1200, in the whole area around Florence, Lords built castles and villas, and villages enriched by the work of artisans and peasants, in a place that, at that time, was already a travel destination for the European nobility.
The surroundings of Florence offer tourists the chance to meet and learn about ancient civilizations, thanks to the presence of finds and archaeological sites of the Etruscan and Roman eras, to visit villages and towns surrounded by medieval walls, to get into the religious and secular culture, which for centuries has marked the existence of these valleys. The most famous area of all is, of course, the Chianti region, an area, never well defined in its boundaries, between Florence and Siena, where vines and the wine are the unchallenged protagonists.

 

The Chianti Region
Chainti colline e vignetiRenovating an old farmhouse in a village in the Chianti area and turning it into an Agriturismo is the secret dream of a whole generation, often envious of the many foreigners, first of all Englishmen, who first started all this.
The Chianti hills, between Florence and Siena, are a magical place of unique beauty in any season: flowering landscapes in spring, a warm smell of earth in summer, loaded vineyards in autumn and total silence when the snow falls in winter. The sweetness of the landscape is given by the ups and downs of the hills, roads that follow the curves of an area covered with vines, to be traveled very slowly. From the hilltops, ancient cottages look down over the valleys, they scrutinize the borders, the cattle and crops. The medieval villages, the “Certose” and the monasteries, are gems where history and culture have always gone hand in hand, places where even nowadays thinkers and writers seek inspiration in peace and quiet.

 

Mugello
mugelloThe Magelli, ancient Ligurian tribe, and not Etruscans, were the first inhabitants of this land, which indeed takes its name from them. Nowadays, for motor fans, Mugello is synonym with Mugello International Autodrome, but those who love the Tuscan countryside, will find out that this is a lovely area, boasting the presence of small villages and medieval towns. This whole area north of Florence is full of different types of sport facilities, including golf, hiking, horseback riding, water sports, which can be practiced in the area of Bilancino Lake.
The landscape of the Mugello can be enjoyed from several perspectives: from the mountains, lower from the hills, but also the flat area along the river Sieve. The quite few towns in the area, are all very small size and well preserved. Over the last twenty years, the area has begun to invest and develop tourism, as its many features make it an ideal destination for those visiting Florence and also willing to enjoy the magnificent Tuscan countryside. In Mugello, there are several villages to explore, including Borgo San Lorenzo – with the Museum of Rural Life, Firenzuola – which hosts a very interesting museum about the Historical Landscape of the Apennines, San Piero a Sieve – with the Convent of St. Bonaventura al Bosco, Vicchio – with Giotto’s house-museum and the Museum of Sacred Art and Popular Religion.

 

Valdarno
valdarnoThe Upper Valdarno is the province of Florence. It is a plain and hilly area running along River Arno, boasting a rich vegetation and beautiful landscapes. The whole area is covered with olive groves and vineyards, forests of beech, chestnut and oak trees, but mostly, this is a vast land where historical and archaeological evidence are treasured. For example, in Figline Valdarno, a citadel still surrounded by its ancient Medieval walls, you will find the Church of Santa Maria with the Museum of Sacred Art and the beautiful Romanesque church Pieve di San Romolo, in the hamlet Gaville. In Incisa Val d’Arno, landmarks include the Church of Saints Cosma and Damiano al Vivaio, a monastery dating back to 1300, taken up by the Franciscans in 1500, and the oratory of the Holy Cross, which holds a wonderful wooden crucifix and is a pilgrimage destination. In Rignano sull’Arno, in addition to the magnificent view over the valley, you shouldn’t miss the eighteenth-century villa Torre a Cona, built over an earlier medieval castle. In Valdarno there is evidence of human settlement from the Stone Age, as well as ancient Etruscan, Ligurian and Roman settlements, and during the Middle Ages, this area was considered one of the most wealthy in Europe, due to the presence of castles and villas.

 

Empoli and Val D'Elsa
valdelsaThe whole area around Empoli and Val d’Elsa, are ideal for those seeking for the typical Tuscan countryside. This area is enclosed between the rivers Arno and Elsa, and is characterized by rolling hills and a wide wetland, named Padule di Fucecchio. The whole region is rich in historical and archaeological sites, and tourist attractions, and is also an excellent starting point for visiting other Tuscan cities, such as Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Volterra and San Gimignano.

 

The Empolese Val d’Elsa area boasts the presence of several museums:

  • The Museum of Sacred Art Santa Verdiana, in Castelfiorentino, with works of art and artifacts from the churches and convents of the area;
  • The Historical Museum of Hunting and Territory, in Cerreto Guidi, with a collection of hunting and target shooting weapons, found in the deposits of the Police;
  • Boccaccio’s house-museum, in Certaldo, where through the works depicting the poet and his habits, visitors can recreate the house he lived in in 1300;
  • The Museum of Paleontology, Empoli, with fossils and rocks dating back to the Mesozoic era and Cenozoic era, all revealed in Tuscany;
  • The Museo della Collegiata di Sant’Andrea, in Empoli too, one of the oldest Italian Ecclesiastical Museums, opened as far as before the unification of Italy;
  • The permanent exhibition on glass, in Gambassi Terme, where about 3 000 archaeological finds are displayed, dating back to the period between the XIII and XVI centuries, and where visitors can learn about the history of glass processing in Valdelsa through historical and archaeological testimonies;
  • The Museum of Archaeology and Ceramics, in Montelupo, housed in the ancient building complex that was once dedicated to St. Quirico and St. Lucia all’Ambrogiana.