A short distance from Prato, with its churches and medieval and Renaissance palaces, is a landscape abundant with trails for hiking and mountain biking, where you can rediscover the ancient bond that has connected man and nature for as long as time itself. There are multiple sports and outdoor activities to try on the over 500 kilometres of equipped trails through forests, hills and small rural villages, as well as the 53 kilometres of bike paths in Prato.
With this itinerary, we’ll discover the Valle di Bisenzio, rich in natural beauty and historical and cultural patrimony. In particular, we’ll visit the Calvana mountain range, which offers panoramic views and a string of small villages, each with their own heritage of art and traditions. The difficulty level of the hike is average and can be done both on foot and by bike. Access to the route is near the SS325 in the Val Bisenzio. Given the lack of fountains along the way, it’s recommended that you bring water with you.
We begin on the right bank of the Bisenzio, in via Don Dino Pizzicori, reachable with the SS325. Cross the foot bridge over the river and continue along the small road that leads to the walking path to reach the centre of the Vaiano, a small village with many historically important buildings, including the Abbey of San Salvatore, of Lombard origins and dating to the 11th century. Cross east through the town to continue toward Sofignano, which will welcome you with its medieval Melegrana tower.
After less than a kilometre, you’ll begin a brief stretch of dirt road that will transform again into asphalt as you continue. Eventually you’ll come to a fork in the road: take via Docciola to get to the Parish Church of Santi Vito e Modesto, with a portico and bell tower and which in the Middle Ages was one of the main centres for the spread of Christianity in the Val Bisenzio. Continuing on the main road, you’ll come close to the so-called Black House, a 13th-century fortified residence with a large tower built using alberese stone. From here, take the unpaved trail that, after about a kilometre, links up with the asphalt road around the Church of Santi Andrea e Donato in Savignano, also built with the typical white alberese stone from the Calvana mountain.
Leave Savignano crossing the small bridge over the La Nosa stream, then take the old cart road up toward the Calvana. After about 1.5 km, you’ll reach a small slope surrounded by a forest of oak trees, from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the towns on the opposite slope. From here, you’ll begin to head down a more clayey stretch. When you’ve successfully reached the crossroads, follow the main road and turn slightly to the right on the trail showing a white and red marker, which, after a few hundred metres, will bring you to the crossroads for Valibona. When you reach the gate of the educational farm “Il Biancospino” take a brief detour and head into the town. History buffs will be interested to know that this is where, on January 3, 1943, the first resistance battle was fought against the Nazi Fascists in Tuscany. The event is commemorated with a memorial in the very spot where the fighting took place.
When you’ve returned to the farm’s gate, take the road leading slightly down the hill to the crossroads for Parmigno. From here, continue along the cart road to the right and you’ll come to a gate erected for grazing animals. Past this gate is the abandoned village of Parmigno, which welcomes you with the stone architrave of the historic Porta delle Casacce and the small Church of Santo Stefano. Leave Parmigno heading down toward the Church of San Martino in Fabio, mentioned in an official document from 1024, when it was donated by the Bishop of Florence to the Monastery of San Miniato al Monte.
Leaving the church in Fabio behind you, after a few metres of asphalt road, you’ll come once again to a dirt track as you continue halfway up, crossing over a small trench, before reaching the slight climb to Savignano. Go over the bridge and head backwards on via di Savignano until you get to the start of the road for Sofignano, where you’ll turn to the left. After passing by Villa Buonamici a San Guadenzio, continue for around 2.5 km until you reach via Casanova; from here you can return to where you started.