Montemurlo is a town that lies halfway between Pistoia and Prato. In recent years, the town has experienced industrial and population growth. Not devoid in architectural and natural attractions scattered throughout the nearby countryside as well as in the town, Montemurlo is a town that takes visitors by surprise, unaware of all of its treasures.
The area around Montemurlo is also rich in villas and estates, owned by wealthy Florentine families. The hamlets of Bagnolo and Oste, an integral and characteristic part of the municipality, are also ready to amaze with some interesting historical and artistic traces. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the Monferrato Protected Nature Area, which lies entirely within the municipality.
The center of the village is located on a dramatic hill and dominates the underlying valley in a picturesque way. On the highest point, immersed in the greenery of its centuries-old park, stands the beautiful 14th-century Montemurlo Castle, the centrepiece of the castles fortification system. From the time of the domination of the Guidi family, the villa retains the same face of the fortress along with the majority of the historic crenelated tower, the base of which can still be seen in the cellars of the house. The severity of the complex is accentuated by the bare ashlars of Alberese stone from which it is built. We can still imagine the drawbridge replacing the large double staircase of today, designed by Giorgio Vasari and modified during the nineteenth century, when the villa obtained it's current appearance, given to it by the Gherardi family of Pistoia.
The future of Montemurlo was drastically changed following the siege of the castle in 1537, following which the town became a stable Medici domain, like the rest of Tuscany, and the castle lost its function as a border fort and became the quiet noble residence that it is today.
In the small town square, you can find the Parish Church of San Giovanni Decollato. The first traces of the church date back to 998, at a time when Otto III came to Italy upon his coronation as emperor. In the claim about the Bishop Antonio of Pistoia's possession, there is a reference about the parish stating that it was originally very small in size. The parish is protected by an imposing bell tower, which was originally a watch tower, then in the early-mid sixteenth century it was transformed and refined. Entering the church, we pass through a seventeenth-century loggia, supported by brick columns with Ionic-inspired capitals. The layout is simple, with a single nave, presbytery and choir, a trussed roof and four altar shrines.
The magnificent villas scattered throughout the municipal area and belonging to the wealthiest Florentine families are certainly noteworthy. Among these are Villa Pazzi al Parugiano, Villa Strozzi and Villa del Barone.
The Monteferrato Nature Reserve includes three groups of hills. To the north is Monte Javello, which reaches 931 meters, and Cavallaie (997 meters). To the west is Poggio di Becco (504 meters) and to the east, Monte delle Coste (518 meters). These hills form a natural amphitheater, with Monteferrato south of the center, characterising the whole area both physically and symbolically.
The faunal heritage of Monteferrato is of considerable value as it includes species of birds and mammals that are now rare or have disappeared in other territories. Among the mammals there are many species of ungulates, such as red deer, roe deer, fallow deer and wild boar. Insectivores include shrews and a particular species of bat; the big ear bat.
On the third Sunday in November, Montemurlo hosts the Oil Festival in the castle in order to raise funds for the recovery and conservation of the fortress itself. The festival is dedicated to one of the typical products of the area and to the traditions connected to it.
Another recurring event is the Historical Corteggio that takes place in Montemurlo on the last Sunday of June in memory of the famous battle of 1537.
In Montemurlo, you can find all the typical products of the Prato area, promoted and celebrated through the Carmignano Wine and Typical Prato Flavours Route that takes in DOC and DOCG wines, oils, biscotti from Prato, and other baked goods as well as liqueurs, honey, jams, pickles, Cinto Toscano DOP and Calvanina meats and sausages.