Mugello, a land to explore
The Mugello is a large valley, located north of Florence, which extends along the Sieve river at an ancient lake of marine origin. The Mugello area is well defined on three sides (north, south and west) of the Apennines and other reliefs such as Monte Giovi, Monte Senario and Vetta le Croci; eastern border is less clear, but by convention it is identified with the area where Dicomano stands. This area is also joined by the Firenzuola valley, located beyond the Apennine ridge, which is often referred to as Alto Mugello.
From a landscape point of view, the Mugello is characterized by a rather varied territory that quickly changes from the plain of the valley floor to the ridges of the mountain ranges. Since the end of the twentieth century, the Mugello landscape has been enriched with a new element, the Bilancino lake, a large artificial reservoir created to regulate the flow of the Sieve and guarantee the water supply to the Florentine area.
What to see in Mugello
Mugello is a land full of points of interest, here we can find everything: medieval churches and castles, Renaissance villas, historic villages and even an international racetrack! Now let’s see what are the main places to visit in Mugello:
- Pieve di Sant’Agata
- Borgo San Lorenzo
- Villa di Cafaggiolo
- Villa del Trebbio
- Convento del Bosco ai Frati
- Casa di Giotto
- Lago di Bilancino
- Badia di Moscheta
Pieve di Sant’Agata
The Pieve di Sant’Agata del Mugello is located inside the homonymous village less than 4 kilometers from the municipal capital Scarperia. Documented since 948, the current church is the result of the reconstruction occurred in the XII as documented by the panels of the baptismal font. In Mugello you can visit several medieval churches, but this, with its peculiar walled masonry in Alberese stone, can be considered the most beautiful of all. Inside, among the various works, the baptistery and the baptismal fence that has been built reusing some parts of the ancient pulpit of the church deserve particular attention.
Many will know Scarperia because of the Mugello Circuit, but actually, before hosting the MotoGP races, Scarperia is a beautiful medieval hamlet that can boast of being part of the club of “the most beautiful villages in Italy“. Founded in 1306 by Florence, the city is one of the so-called Florentine Terrenuove (New Lands); here is one of the main monuments of the whole Mugello, the beautiful Palazzo dei Vicari, once the seat of the Florentine government in the area, and today the house of the Municipality and of the Museo dei Ferri Taglienti. Inside the palace you can admire several frescoes and other works, while on its facade there are many coats of arms belonging to the Florentine vicars.
Borgo San Lorenzo
Borgo San Lorenzo is the main center of the Mugello and is located right at the center of the valley along the Sieve river. A well-known center since Roman times (with the name of Anneianum), Borgo preserves a valuable cultural heritage. The most important monument is undoubtedly the Pieve di San Lorenzo, a large Romanesque church characterized by a singular brick bell tower with an irregular hexagonal base; The Renaissance Villa Pecori Giraldi and the Museo della Manifattura Chini set up inside it are also very interesting.
Villa di Cafaggiolo
UNESCO heritage since 2013, the beautiful Villa di Cafaggiolo (in the municipality of Barberino) was built around the mid-fifteenth century, commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici, in place of a previous fortress. During the nineteenth century, the villa was very renovated and private of one of the two towers, but not the merlons and corbels that still characterize it. To complete the villa there is a beautiful forest that at the time was used by the Medici as a hunting reserve.
Villa del Trebbio
It’s time to talk about another Medici villa that has many common points with the Villa Cafaggiolo, starting with the status of UNESCO heritage. The Medici villa of Trebbio is an extraordinary monument located in a beautiful position a short distance from San Piero a Sieve. Built with the features of a medieval fortress in the first half of the fifteenth century, the villa of Trebbio was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici and built by the famouse architect Michelozzo. The villa, also known as Castello del Trebbio, consists of a large quadrangular body dominated by high tower that overlooks a beautiful Italian garden. Also in this case you can admire some elements such as corbels and blackbirds, a legacy of medieval architecture.
Convento del Bosco ai Frati
Considered one of the oldest in all of Tuscany, the Convent of the Bosco ai Frati was founded by the Ubaldini counts around the seventh century. The complex is located in Lucignano a fraction of the town of Scarperia and San Piero not far from the villas of Cafaggiolo and Trebbio. Like the two villas, the convent was rebuilt in the fifteenth century by Michelozzo who succeeded in combining the Renaissance style taste with the previous medieval architectural tradition. Inside the convent is a small museum of sacred art where, among the various works, you can admire a wooden crucifix of 1460 attributed to Donatello or his workshop.
Casa di Giotto
The birth house of Giotto, one of the greatest artists of all time, is located in Vespignano, near Vicchio. Inside you can visit a museum dedicated to the great painter, equipped with interactive multimedia stations and an educational workshop.
Lago di Bilancino
Born as a dam built on one side to ensure water supply and on the other to prevent the risk of floods, it is known the saying “Arno non cresce se Sieve non mesce” (Arno river will not grow if Sieve river do not pour water), Lake Bilancino has over time acquired also a recreational function. You can swim in its water and its beaches are equipped with real establishments; here you can also practice many activities such as sport fishing, canoeing, windsurfing and even trekking and mountain biking. The natural context in which Lake Bilancino is located, is very beautiful. Here there is the WWF oasis of Gabbianello, and you can admire many species of birds such as storks, cranes and flamingos.
Badia di Moscheta
We move now in the Upper Mugello to reach the Badia di Moscheta. Located in the heart of the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines, immersed in a beautiful landscape made of woods, streams and pastures, the Vallombrosian abbey of San Pietro a Moscheta was founded in 1034 by San Giovanni Gualberto. A place of spirituality and an oasis of peace far from the hectic and chaotic life of the city. Inside the Abbey there are various structures including a farm, a restaurant and the Museo del Paesaggio Storico dell’Appennino which focuses on the evolution of the Apennine landscape due to human intervention.
After Scarperia we talk about another terranuova: Firenzuola. Although heavily hit during the Second World War, Firenzuola presents some points of interest such as the Rocca (rebuilt after World War II) and the Museo della Pietra Serena. The surroundings of Firenzuola are interesting both from a landscape point of view, with several panoramic points, and for the presence of some monuments of historical value, such as the Germanic Military Cemetery of the Futa, and artistic, like the Pieve di San Giovanni Decollato in Cornacchiaia.