Top things to do in Vaglia, the guide
Vaglia is a small hillside village located along the Via Bolognese halfway between Florence and the Mugello. Ideal for a trip out of town or for an escape from the summer heat, the territory of Vaglia has several interesting places to see. Among these there is undoubtedly the Villa Demidoff with its magnificent park, the Pieve di San Pietro in Vaglia, the Villa di Bivigliano and the Santuario di Monte Senario, one of the main places of spirituality in all of Tuscany.
- Pieve di San Pietro in Vaglia
- Villa Demidoff in Pratolino
- Villa di Bivigliano
- Santuario di Monte Senario
Pieve di San Pietro in Vaglia
Documented since the tenth century, the Pieve di San Pietro in Vaglia is one of the oldest in the whole area. Seriously damaged in 1789, the church was restored in 1949 when it got important structural changes. This church is interesting both for its “seniority” and for its artistic heritage. Inside we can admire some works attributed to the workshop of Andrea della Robbia, such as festoons and the head of an angel on the baptismal font, a wooden crucifix attributed to Giambologna, a fourteenth-century Madonna and Child, some paintings representing the evangelists and a reliquary in ebony. To all these works is added the Pala di Santo Stefano in Pescina, by Giovanni della Robbia which is located in the parish church since the 1999.
The Parco di Pratolino, also known as Villa Demidoff, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and fascinating places to see around Florence. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013, this villa has a long history of ups and downs beginning in 1568 when its estate was bought by Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici with the aim of building a monumental villa. The works were entrusted to Buontalenti, who designed a series of artificial caves, machinery and devices for the villa to enhance the coexistence of art and science. Once the work was completed, the park looked like a “garden of wonders” where was possible to admire the works of great artists such as Cellini, Giambologna, Bandinelli, Cioli and Ammannati.
Unfortunately, the villa experienced a long period of abandonment at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, so in the 1820s the Medici villa was demolished due to its condition. In this period the park was restored by the engineer Frietsch according to the canons of the time and equipped with a panoramic lookout, called Casino di Montili. In 1872 the villa was bought by the Russian prince Pavel Demidoff who transformed the building of the Paggeria medicea into what is now known as Villa Demidoff. After a series of changes of ownership, the villa was finally purchased by the Provincia di Firenze in 1981.
Today we can still admire the Chapel, built by Buontalenti in 1580, the Grande Voliera, the Vasca della Maschera, the Grotta del Mugnone, the Grotta di Cupido, the Stables, part of the Gamberaie pools and above all the incredible Appennine Colossus created by Giambologna.
Timetables in 2019: the park is open from Friday 5 April until Sunday 27 October.
In this period the park is open with free admission on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10.00 to 20.00, in October only until 18.00.
It is also open on April 18, Monday 22 and Thursday 25; Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 May; Monday 24 June for St. John the Baptist; and in August Thursday 15, for Ferragosto.
Groups can request extraordinary visits even in winter by contacting the Park offices directly.
Phone: +39 055 4080721 and +39 055 4080723
How to get to the Pratolino Park: Villa Demidoff can be reached by car, right in front of the entrance there is a large parking lot, or by bus with the ATAF line 25 which starts from Piazza San Marco in Florence.
Villa di Bivigliano
We leave the Villa di Pratolino to pass to that of Bivigliano following the footsteps, or rather the projects, of Buontalenti. A beautiful example of a 16th century villa, the Villa di Bivigliano was built by the Ginori family on the ruins of an ancient castle. The villa is immersed in the greenery of a vast park, once used as a hunting reserve, full of trees and exotic plants. To further enhance the location we also find a beautiful Italian garden. Today the villa is mainly used to host weddings and events but it is possible to visit it by booking in advance.
Santuario di Monte Senario
The Convent of Monte Senario was built in 1234 by the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of the Servants of Mary. The sanctuary was enlarged and modified several times from the fifteenth century until the last interventions dating back to the nineteenth century. Situated in a beautiful position, immersed in the green of the woods, the complex is composed of various buildings including the church, the convent and the hospice.
The Chiesa dell’Addolorata dates back to 1412 but was completely rebuilt in 1717 and subsequently modified. The interior, with a nave and side chapels, is in Baroque style. Among the numerous decorations and stuccos made by Giovan Martino Portogalli, we can admire various works of art as well as in the sacristy and in the cappella dei Santi Fondatori.
Montesenario, besides being one of the most important sanctuaries in all of Tuscany, is also famous for its distillery that produces the famous Gemma d’Abeto, an aromatic and balsamic liqueur, the Elisir di China, the Alkermes and the Amaro Borghini.
Address: Via Montesenario, 3474, Vaglia
Opening time: 07.30 – 19.30