5 small towns to see in the province of Florence
Everyone knows Florence but not everyone knows its surroundings. Indeed, there are many interesting places to visit throughout the province of Florence, with so many delightful hamlets to explore far and wide. There are real gems to discover, small towns rich in history and traditions, ideal for a trip out of town and to escape from the chaos of the city. Today we see some of these villages trying to find worthy representatives of the various areas around Florence.
Let’s start immediately with a very beautiful village rich in history: Certaldo, or rather Certaldo Alto. Once in the lower town, take the funicular in Piazza Boccaccio to reach the oldest and most beautiful part of Certaldo. Speaking of Piazza Boccaccio, I have already mentioned the most illustrious son of this village, namely Giovanni Boccaccio, the great fourteenth-century poet, author of the Decameron. Let’s leave literature aside and come to the village. Certaldo developed in medieval times as a castle, and in fact you will notice that some of its buildings have architectural elements, such as battlements and towers, typical of medieval castles. Another constant element is the brick, there are bricks everywhere, it almost seems to be in Siena! The main attractions are Boccaccio’s House (obvious isn’t it?), The church of Saints Jacopo and Filippo, the Museum of Sacred Art and the beautiful Palazzo Pretorio.
If you are visiting Florence, in my opinion, a trip to Fiesole is almost a must. The city is really close to the capital and can also be easily reached by city buses. Fiesole is located in a fantastic panoramic position on a beautiful hill overlooking Florence. The view that you can enjoy from Fiesole is unparalleled: 180 degrees over the whole of Florence and the surrounding green hills, an absolute spectacle! One of the most beautiful viewpoints is the terrace in front of the convent of San Francesco which can be reached by following the road to San Francesco which rises from the main square. But you don’t have to visit Fiesole just for the view. The city has an ancient history and in fact here is an archaeological area of extraordinary importance with a beautiful Roman theater and the remains of other structures from the Etruscan-Roman era. Along with the archaeological area, you should also visit the archaeological museum. The most important church is the cathedral of San Romolo where, together with the nearby Museo Bandini, several important works of art are preserved. The presence of a cathedral should not be surprising, because in Etruscan and Roman times Fiesole was a very important city, so in the first centuries of Christianity (perhaps already from the third century) it was chosen as a bishopric.
One of the most famous areas in all of Tuscany is Chianti, a region known for its wine and its rolling hills, the protagonists of fabulous views. One of these hills is occupied by the small village of Montefioralle which is located in the municipality of Greve in Chianti. The village developed in medieval times around a castle which has been documented since 1085 with the name of “Monteficalli”. Since then it seems as if time has stopped like a bubble. In fact, walking through its narrow streets you can really immerse yourself in another era. Montefioralle is truly a delightful village, the most typical example of a medieval Tuscan hilltop village. In the town there is the church of Santo Stefano which preserves some valuable works of art and a house that once belonged to Amerigo Vespucci, the great navigator who certainly needs no introduction. Not far from the village I also point out the beautiful pieve di San Cresci.
Scarperia is one of the so-called “terre nuove” (new towns) of Florence. In practice it is a living testimony of a very important historical moment for Tuscany, that is when Florence began to expand and conquer the surrounding territories. To do this, some new cities were built (the terre nuove) which served as both administrative centers and fortifications. Scarperia was one of them. The hamlet shares some very well-defined urban characteristics with the other terre nuove, starting with the presence of two main roads that meet in the central square. Here is the most important monument of Scarperia, the Palazzo dei Vicari. Built during the fourteenth century, the palace has a high tower and battlements that make it look like a castle. Inside is the Museo dei Ferri Taglienti which documents the artisanal production of knives and blades. On the other side of the square there are the Prepositure of Saints Jacopo and Filippo and the chapel of the Madonna di Piazza. Just one kilometer from Scarperia there is the Mugello International Circuit which regularly hosts the Moto GP and recently also the Formula 1. To conclude I want to point out two important medieval churches: the pieve di Sant’Agata, in the homonymous village, and the pieve di Santa Maria a Fagna, which are located a short distance from Scarperia.
One of the many beautiful things about Tuscany is that the region is linked to an infinity of famous people, artists, poets, scientists and so on. Great personalities who have really left an indelible mark on history. One of the most important of the sons of Tuscany is the great Leonardo da Vinci, a man who in the collective imagination represents the quintessence of genius. You don’t have to go so far from Florence to reach the place where this great character was born. Vinci is in fact located fifty kilometers from the capital, in a beautiful hilly area on the slopes of Montalbano. As you can easily imagine, the visit to Vinci can only be centered on the figure of Leonardo. As a first stop I recommend his birthplace in Anchiano, while in Vinci there is the Museo Leonardiano where you can admire dozens of machines made following his projects. Among other things to see the castle of Conti Guidi and the church of Santa Croce.