A Slow Tour of the Montalbano Region
Take a journey through the Tuscan hills, off the beaten track. Discover Etruscan archaeology, medieval castles and Medici villas. Travel at a slow pace around the gentle, panoramic curves, be taken in by their soothing effect as it lets you immerse yourself in the quiet simplicity of the landscape, over the lands crossed by Augustus, Lorenzo the Magnificent and Leonardo Da Vinci.
The area of Montalbano covers 16,000 hectares in the area between the provinces of Florence, Pistoia and Prato and its incredible location, at the heart of the peninsula, makes it the perfect base from which to explore the whole of Tuscany.
To roam these magnificent hills and mountains is to take in the pleasures of nature and culture. It inspires you to calmly explore the scenic roads, making plenty of stops to take in and explore the parts that “hit and run” tourists miss out on.
The high hilly landscape. The main features of the Montalbano range are the age-old forests on the high slopes and, further down, the olive groves sloping downwards to the low terraces, before making way for the vineyards on the plains.
This is an ideal starting point for a tour of the lesser known Tuscany, and can be reached by taking the Rioveggio exit from the A1 Florence-Bologna, then taking the spectacular Provincial Road 65, which leads to Montalbano and then Florence, finally reaching the sea via Prato and Pistoia.
Fascinating Etruscan archaeological sites can be found on the descent towards Florence. The Montereggi archaeological park, on the hill of the same name, just a few kilometres away from the village of Limite, the Etruscan Necropolis in Prato Rosello and the site of Pietramarina, with its ancient holm-oak forest, serve as reminder that this land was home to development and technology that predate even the Roman era.
The genius-loci. The charm of Montalbano lies in the intermingling of untamed nature and historic landscapes, solemn sceneries and timeless beauty that harmoniously blend together with the garden countryside, revealing important cultural relics behind every hairpin turn throughout the route. You can rediscover the luxury of travelling without a destination, safe in the knowledge that you will be enraptured throughout the duration. Castles and medieval towns, churches and abbeys, Medici villas and Etruscan arches are hidden in every town and along every pathway. You’ll find a succession of architectural gems spanning different eras that are sometimes located just a few hundred metres away from one another. Pass from the times of Augustus to those of Lorenzo the Magnificent in the blink of an eye, or rather, in the turn of a corner.
Maserati owes a lot to its history, and the choice of excellent, durable materials such as wood, glass and aluminium is a tangible sign of the historic journey that Maserati has undertaken over the decades, learning from the past and investing in the future.
This is the case of Artimino and Comeana. The small village of Artimino, located in the province of Prato, bears traces of Etruscan, Roman and Medieval history that live in extraordinary harmony. On the hill opposite, stands the splendid Medici Villa La Ferdinanda, commissioned by Ferdinando I dei Medici and built by the architect Bernardo Buontalenti between 1596 and 1604. It is known as “Villa dai cento camini” - the villa of one hundred chimneys, because of the vast number of stacks that jut out from its rooftop.
A journey through Montalbano is a contemplative journey. It cannot be visited simply by passing through.
You need time to stand still and admire it in its entirety. Once you have stopped, you'll want to stay longer to immerse yourself in each and every detail, perhaps rounding off the trip in style at La Ferdinanda in Paggeria Medicea, which is currently used as a hotel.