Cerreto Guidi in the province of Florence
Cerreto Guidi is a municipality in the province of Florence that is located near Empoli and Vinci. The village rises on a low hill, a little less than 40 kilometers away from Florence, in an area characterized by the typical Tuscan landscape with gentle hills cultivated with olive trees and vines. The historic center of Cerreto Guidi has a substantially circular (or oval) shape that follows the course of the hill. In the center of the town, in a raised position, there is the monument symbol of Cerreto, the Villa Medicea.
The area where Cerreto Guidi rises has been inhabited since prehistoric times but the first news about this village date back to the second half of the 8th century. In the Middle Ages the center was part of the possessions of the powerful family of the Conti Guidi who had a castle here. Today, where that castle once stood, there is the Villa Medicea that was built in the 16th century.
What to see in Cerreto Guidi
The historical center of Cerreto Guidi is small and can be easily visited in a short time. The most important monument is undoubtedly the majestic Villa dei Medici, but, as we will see, there are also other points of interest worth visiting.
Santuario di Santa Liberata
The Santuario di Santa Liberata is located in Via Matteotti, just outside the center of Cerreto Guidi. Built in the 14th century, the church has always been linked to the cult of Santa Liberata, which has grown considerably over the centuries. The building has been restructured and remodeled in various occasions: the portico, the sacristy and the presbytery were rebuilt in the 17th century, while the chapels were realized between the end of the 18th and the 19th century. Inside there are some frescoes, pictorial decorations and canvases made between the 14th and the 19th century.
Oratorio della Santissima Trinità
The plan of the historical center of Cerreto Guidi is rather simple and linear. Basically, there are two concentric roads, an external one that delimits the inhabited area and an internal one that is overlooked by the houses that rise at the foot of the Medici Villa. One of the buildings along this road is the Oratorio della Santissima Trinità. Built at the beginning of the 17th century in the place of a previous oratory destroyed by a landslide, the building has a simple and linear façade. Inside, the oratory hosts a beautiful cycle of wall paintings with Stories of the Old and New Testament and Miracles of Saints by an unknown author and a panel, Communion of Saint Liberata, attributed to Passignano.
Pieve di San Leonardo
The time has finally come to reach the top, but before we get to the “main course” of the visit, I suggest you make a stop at the Pieve di San Leonardo. Located right next to the villa, the church is documented since the tenth century even if the current forms of the building are clearly more recent (partly due to the nineteenth-century restorations). Inside you can admire several works of art of great value such as the baptismal font made by Giovanni della Robbia, the wooden crucifix by Giambologna and two Sacred Conversations made by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio and Francesco di Cristofano known as il Franciabigio.
Magnificent and imposing, the Villa Medicea of Cerreto Guidi dominates the town from the top of the hill. The villa was built around the middle of the 16th century by Cosimo I who wanted to build a hunting residence. In 1671 the villa was donated to Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici who transformed it into a noble residence. With the end of the Medici family, the villa passed first to Lorraine and then to other owners until it was donated to the Italian State by Galliano Boldrini. At the time of the donation, a condition was set to create a museum and so today inside the villa there is the Historical Museum of Hunting and the Territory.
The villa is very beautiful and inside preserves various neoclassical frescoes, excellent historical furnishings, numerous antiquarian collections with pieces of Roman and medieval times and works of art ranging from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century. Inaugurated in 2002, the museum is dedicated to weapons, especially hunting weapons, and is made up of private collections, weapons decommissioned by law enforcement agencies and various donations. Among the most valuable pieces there are some weapons that belonged to the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo and Ferdinando III of Tuscany.
Places to visit in the surroundings of Cerreto Guidi
In the municipality of Cerreto Guidi there is another residence linked to the Medici family, the Fattoria Medicea di Stabbia, which is privately owned and cannot be visited. Not far from Cerreto, Vinci is absolutely worth a visit, with all its baggage of visits linked to the history and life of Leonardo. As for the other towns in the area, I suggest you to read the guides on Empoli and San Miniato.
Festivals and Events in Cerreto Guidi
The village of Cerreto Guidi is very nice to visit in every period of the year, but there are some recurrences that make the visit even more pleasant. One of the most heartfelt traditions is that of the Cribs that are exhibited on the occasion of the Via dei Presepi during the month of December. The center is filled with small and large cribs that are exhibited in various spaces. Among the most peculiar ones there is the Crocheted Nativity which is really unique in its kind.
Could a historical commemoration be missing? Of course not. Even Cerreto Guidi has its own and it is called Palio del Cerro. The palio takes place in summer and consists of a historical procession with participants in period costumes and a series of five games of skill: the crossbow, the ring toss, the race in the bigoncia, the tug of war and the race on the troppoli.
Let’s conclude with a glass (or maybe two…) of good wine which is a typical product of the area and every year (in summer) has a dedicated event. Medicea Wine Festival is an event organized by the Municipality and Pro Loco in order to enhance the wine heritage of Cerreto Guidi.
How to reach Cerreto Guidi
Public transport: Cerreto Guidi is about 40 kilometers from Florence and 8 kilometers from Empoli. The village does not have its own train station. The closest one is in Empoli and right in front of the station there are the bus stops that connect the city to Cerreto Guidi. The Empoli station is well connected to both Florence and Pisa by fast regional trains (from Florence to Empoli it takes just a few minutes).
By car: to reach Cerreto Guidi by car you have to take the Fi-Pi-Li until the exit for Empoli and then follow the road signs for Cerreto Guidi and Vinci.