By ALEIX GWILLIAM
Travelling to Florence is not just about seeing the city itself but the whole region that surrounds the city, also known as Area Fiorentina. Aside from Florence itself, the Area Fiorentina is comprised of five regions with plenty of different cultural, historical and gastronomical attractions. Mugello, Montagna Fiorentina, Valdarno, Chianti and Empolese Valdelsa are easy accessible by car or bus from many Florence apartments.
Mugello is a valley in the northeast of Florence filled with beautiful little towns surrounded by gorgeous green landscapes. This is the original land of the Medici family, loved among those who look for silence and countryside. The towns of Borgo San Lorenzo and Barberino di Mugello are particularly worth a visit due to their beauty and buildings of cultural and historical interest. Lake Bilancino is also a highlight of this area along with Trebbio Castle. Expect for these places, long walks in the countryside and forests make it a joy for nature lovers.
East of Mugello is Montagna Fiorentina, an area that stands out for its beautiful natural landscape. Vineyards and olive trees in the valleys of mountains and hills make this an excellent place for nature enthusiasts. The Foreste Casentinesi National Park and the Forest of Sant’Antonio have beautiful walking paths that attract hikers.
Further south is the smallest region of Area Fiorentina, Valdarno, which follows the river Arno along the valley. The town of Figlino de Valdarno is a 12th century town with beautiful roads that border the river. Religious tourism is the main attraction of Valdarno, with small churches and parishes dating from the 11th to the 16th century, such as those in the town of San Giovanni Valdarno or Incisa.
To the west of Valdarno is Chianti, a name that will ring a bell to wine lovers, since this is the origin of Chianti wine. Of all the regions, Chianti is possibly the most beautiful with all the picturesque towns surrounded by vineyards. Castles, churches, monasteries, cottages and villages line the roads that lead to Florence, the old roads taken by pilgrims that arrived in the city from Italy and other parts of Europe. Tuscan cuisine is especially good in Chianti, so sample it in the villages of San Casciano or Impruneta.
Finally, there is Empolese Valdelsa, southwest of Florence, a land of castles and romanesque and renaissance architecture, with many castles and churches scattered across the green landscape. Medieval towns filled with buildings and museums of historical and gastronomical importance, such as Certaldo, Castelfiorentino or Montespertoli, make this part of Tuscany ideal for history lovers.
Although you’ll be on the road discovering the beauty of Tuscany and Area Fiorentina, it will pay off to choose one of the price-worthy apartments in Florence as a base for your trip.