From Barberino di Mugello to Pietramala

The second half of September is a time for festivals for the inhabitants of Barberino, a gracious center in the heart of the Mugello valley. Traditional fairs, markets of local crafts and exhibits on the tools of the peasant culture enliven the natural quiet of the place, while the best restaurants compete in offering local delicacies. We are in the land of pappa col pomodoro, of the berlingozzi, and of the migliaccio (a dessert made from chestnut flour). Try the strapponi, a kind of malt with pecorino cheese and bread crumbs, and the fettunta; not to be forgotten are the very good mushrooms and truffles, gathered in great quantities in the surrounding woods.

From the ancient piazza of the market, Piazza Cavour, dominated by the Palazzo Pretorio, we can take a panoramic walk with a stop at the oratory of Saints Sebastian and Rocco with its decorations from the 1700s. Before taking the road to the Trans-Apennine peaks at the border of Emilia Romagna, we can visit the majestic Medici estates in the area surrounding Barberino.
A construction from the 1400s with the imprint of Michelozzo, the villa of Cafaggiolo (photo) raises its crenolated tower over the green of an ample park. It was Lorenzo the Magnificent to commission its construction, so it could become a pleasant refuge from life at the court. He made it his hunting reserve and his private retreat; his poem Nencia da Barberino was composed for a country girl of the neighborhood that he courted.

Not far away there are the walls of the castle of Trebbio, crowned with a halo of cypress trees. Built on the orders of Cosimo il Vecchio, it was constructed by Michelozzo on the foundations of an ancient defensive structure and preserves a suggestive medieval form. An Italian garden flanks the complex in the shade of the tall tower. Thick oak forests and fields alternate on the rise up to Futa pass (about 900 meters above sea level) with views of the Santerno and Sieve valleys.

We will cross the peak and descend into the rocky crags and dense pine thickets until Pietramala, land of burning earth. In the past, methane emissions from the under-soil created the spectral torches that here and there flickered across the countryside. Long thought to be the flames of hell or incandescent tongues from a subterranean volcano, they were studied in 1778 by Alessandro Volta, who stayed for a long period in a hotel in Pietramala. After turning his room into a chemical laboratory, he clarified the nature of the phenomenon, today no longer visible due to the construction of a methane duct (1939).
The headquarters of the ancient customs office and the numerous sacred icons present all over tell the past of this small village, considered for centuries a border town and today a vacation center and point of departure for excursions in the nearby mountains.

Tel.: 055.84771 telephone of the Commune of Barberino

- By car: taek the A1 highway and exit at Barberino di Mugello (30 km from Firenze Sud), from there take SS 65 della Futa to reach Pietramala
- By train: from the Firenze SMN station, daily connections for Barberino di Mugello by train and by bus
- By plane: Amerigo Vespucci Airport in Florence, 30 km from Barberino di Mugello

Barberino di Mugello
- 19 May: Rolling Contest on the lake
- 20-24 September: Great Fair of September

M. Federica Mazza