Joined together historically by the presence of the Medici family, who left numerous traces of their glorious past in the two towns, today the towns are joined institutionally as well. They became one town on January 1st, 2014.
There are numerous sites, events and activities for tourists: culture, food and sports await you at just a stone’s throw from Florence along via Bolognese, or from the motorway, along the road from Barberino di Mugello. The most important roads in Mugello converge at San Piero a Sieve. They lead to Imola and Bologna.
This ancient hamlet grew around the church by the same name in roughly the 11th century, but in the 14th and 15th centuries it lived its most important moment in history. In fact, the Medici
Family built numerous villas in the area, like, for example Trebbio Castle, and also buildings inside the town like Villa Adami (which today houses the library), and Villa Schifanoia. Trebbio Castle, a marvellous Medieval structure, was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici and built by Michelozzo Michelozzi on the ruins of a feudal tower. Situated on a dominant position overlooking the valley, the castle and the surrounding homes have hosted numerous important historical figures: Lawrence the Magnificent loved to hunt there, Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, his wife Maria Salviati, and their son Cosimo I lived there, and in 1476 a young Amerigo Vespucci, who was fleeing the plague ridden Florence, was a guest there. Notwithstanding the numerous, inevitable restorations, the castle maintains its original beauty, amazing Italian gardens on the west side, and, south, vast terraced vegetable gardens and a pergola on cylindrical red brick columns. (tel. 055 848088 - 339 3029697). In 2013 Trebbio Castle was classified a UNESCO world heritage site.
Fortezza di San Martino, built by Cosimo I in 1569, stands on the highest hill in the town. Bernardo Buontalenti contributed to the construction of the magnificent fortress. It was built to defend the city of Florence and to do so the structure included numerous defense systems, warehouses for arms and provisions, cellars, windmills, cisterns, kitchens, armories and kilns for the fusing of metals for cannons. The hill on which it is situated had a secret passage that led to the river so that the horses could drink. Today it is private property, but you can still walk around the walls, enjoy the view below, breathe in both nature and the history of this imposing structure.
Not far from the town we find Bosco ai Frati Convent. Founded by the Ubaldini family before the year 1000, it is considered to be one of the most ancient convents in Tuscany. Until 1206, it was occupied by hermits, but later it was donated, together with a huge part of the surrounding woods, to Saint Francis of Assisi who in 1212 founded one of the most important Franciscan monasteries in Italy. In 1273 San Bonaventura resided there and the church holds his name. It was here that he was appointed cardinal by Pope Gregory X. In 1420, Cosimo de’ Medici commissioned Michelozzi to redesign and rebuild both church and convent.
The first Medici left the convent numerous precious gifts. Among these we find a wooden Crucifix attributed to Donatello. Next to the convent stands a small museum of sacred art. (055 848111).
The history of the new town continues north towards Scarperia. For years the Ubaldini family dominated the area, but on September 8, 1306, the Florentine Republic decided to oppose their hold on the land and founded a “new land” called Castel San Barnaba, today known as Scarperia (from the word scarp, of the Apennines). Palazzo dei Vicari, once residence of the Viceroy of the Florentine Republic who was appointed to administer both the town and the surrounding lands, stands regally in the centre of the town.
The 14th century Palazzo dei Vicari has undergone numerous transformations. The coats of arms that cover the façade uncover traces of the Medici dominion over the land. They represent the numerous families who, at different times in history, covered the important office of Viceroy of the Florentine Republic. The structure holds an important historical archive and an ancient clock in the bell tower created by Filippo Brunelleschi. It is the home of the Museo dei Ferri Taglienti (Museum of Cutting Blades), which now presents a new exhibition on the art of blade making that has made Scarperia famous the world over.(tel. 055 8468165 – www.prolocoscarperia.it)
Scarperia is also home to the Mugello Circuit (Autodromo internazionale del Mugello - tel. 055 8499111 – www.mugellocircuit.it ).
On via Solferino, the ancient Bottega del Coltellinaio (Cutler’s shop) allows visitors, with the help of expert craftsmen, to participate in the production of cutting blades using ancient tools and methods. It offers the visitor the chance to hear the endless rumble of hammers that sounded through the town, and smell the smoky fumes that were a part of ancient blade making.
Along with shopping for the perfect knife, we suggest a visit to the surrounding churches which are rich in art, for example Fagna (tel. 055 8468165) and the Romanesque church in Sant'Agata (tel. 055 8406926).
The hamlet of Sant’Agata also offers delightful little museums: inside Sant’Agata Parish church, in the Compagnia di San Jacopo Oratory, we find a Raccolta di Arte Sacra (Collection of Sacred Art) with works from tabernacles and abandoned churches in the area, as well as proof of the rich artistic life of the church. (tel. 055 8406853 – 055 8406794 - 328 8262781 – www.museisantagata.it) The Centro documentazione archeologica di Sant'Agata (Centre for archeological documentation), housed in the church cloister, exhibits the most significant archeological finds in Mugello, from prehistoric to modern times (same opening hours as Raccolta), and the Sant’Agata Artigiana e Contadina (Crafts and Farming) by Leprino (Faliero Lepri), with its display of moving characters that mime the crafts and farm life of the past.(tel. 055 8406750 - 055 8406850) .
In the locality of Ponzalla it important to visit the Centro Documentazione e Ricerche Storiche di Gotica Toscana (Centre for Research and Historical Documentation of the Gothic Line in Tuscany - tel. 335 763 2983 - 328 826 1 785 - www.museogotica.it ), founded to preserve the memory of WWII and the consequences it held for the territory.