Beyond the Colla Pass, on the Tuscan side of the Apennines that overlook Romagna, we find Marradi. It rises on the banks of the Lamone River which flows into Ravenna. The central position of the town, situated between Florence, Faenza and the Adriatic coast, contributed to the urban development and the growth of the town in the past. In fact, travellers who reach Marradi by train, along the magical Faentina Railway line, are always pleasantly surprised by the make-up of the town, which sees beautiful streets lined in villas and elegant Palazzi much more similar to those of an important city such as Florence than a remote mountain town. This was mostly due to exiled noble families like the Fabroni from Pistoia or the Torriani from Milano, who were determined to live in the same luxury they had been used to in their cities of origin.
Palazzo Torrini, built in the 16th century and beautifully restored, is a perfect example. The inside presents magnificent decorations by Galileo Chini and a canvas by Silvestro Lega (tel. 055 8042363 - www.palazzotorriani.it ). Another example of the town’s splendid past stands not far off: it is the Teatro degli Animosi. The town centre is enchanting with its Piazza Le Scalelle, surrounded by the fabulous loggia of Palazzo Comunale and the Chiesa del Suffragio. Across the bridge over the Lamone River, we find Chiesa di San Lorenzo (tel. 055 8045170) and the breathtaking 15th century works by the Maestro di Marradi, who in 1475, roughly, studied with Domenico Ghirlandaio.
It must not be forgotten that Marradi was also the home and birthplace of the famous poet Dino Campana, author of the “Orphic Chants”. In the cultural centre dedicated to his life and works we find the Centro Studi Campaniani (Campana Research Centre), a fundamental point of reference for scholars and students from all over the world (www.dinocampana.it).
The Marradi territory is rich in nature: the streams, woodland and fields are an excellent place for excursions on foot, MTB or horseback.
Here are a few: a walk with the family to Rocca di Castiglionchio, and ancient 6th century fortress that overlooks the entire Lamone Valley, and the more tiring trek to the Eremo di Gamogna, and ancient convent founded by San Pier Damiani in 1053, which can be reached along a trail that leaves Ponte della Valle at Lutirano or from the Eremo Pass on the provincial road that goes from Marradi to San Benedetto in Alpe.
There are no excuses, you must stop for lunch or dinner for a taste of the local cuisine: spinach and ricotta ravioli, tagliatelle with porcino mushrooms, wild boar or truffle sauce, cappelletti with stracchino and raveggiolo cheese, grilled game, lamb, custard, pie, ricotta cake, fried cream, and in autumn a choice of numerous sweets made from IGP Mugello marrone chestnuts. The famous Sagra delle Castagne (chestnut fair) is held every year in Marradi, land of the “marron buono”. The land around the town is, in fact, dotted with chestnut groves which, like beautiful gardens, embellish the uniformity of the spontaneous vegetation. The love for this specific plant and the desire to create a project to promote it have given birth to what is known as the Strada del Marrone del Mugello di Marradi: it is a chestnut tour of sorts, specially created for the adventurous tourist who is in search of something original, wholesome and enriching at all levels, sight, smell and taste. (www.stradadelmarrone.it).