Art and culture in Mugello
Situated just north of Florence, the Mugello valley is dotted with
old churches, mansions, castles and fascinating walled towns and
agricultural villages housing a variety of small themed museums
accounting for a unique artistic and cultural heritage.
The museums of Mugello arepart of a museum network with four subject
areas: ethnography, art, nature and archaeology.
For the museums in the demo-etno-antropologico itinerary,
concentrating on traditional crafts and farming methods, please
see the 'Made in Mugello' section .
The art and historic heritage itinerary includes
museums and collections devoted to the art works from the religious
buildings and palaces of the area made by the notable 'Manifattura
Chini' as well as the Beato Angelico museum of Sacred Art and Popular
Devotion at Vicchio and the St. Agatha Collection of Sacred Art
The nature itinerary has its hub in the Museum
of Historical Landscapes of the Apennines set in the thousand-year-old
Moscheta Abbey at Firenzuola.
Lastly, the archaeological itinerary includes the
St. Agatha Centre for Archaeological Documentation at Scarperia
and the Uppr Mugello Archaeological Museum at Palazzuolo sul Senio,
as well as the archaeological sites at Frascole and Dicomano.
Vicchio is the hometown of two of the most celebrated Florentine
artists of all times, painters Beato Angelico and Giotto
di Bondone. From Mugello also came the Della Casa family,
whose most famous member was the author of the 'Galateo' book of
manners and etiquette. In 1885, Marradi was the birthplace of Dino
Campana, a 'maudit' poet whose whole life was an unresolved struggle
between genius and madness: the 'Centro Studi Campaniani' (Dino
Campana Research Centre) gathers any available editions of books
as well as biographies, criticism, scholarly papers, magazine and
newspaper articles, documents and images about his life and works
the footsteps of the Medicis
The Medici family, known worldwide as the rulers
of Florence who sponsored the arts in Renaissance times, originate
from the countryside between San Piero a Sieve and Barberino di
Mugello. Tradition has it that they were poor charcoal
burners in the woods of Mugello until one of them started in the
medical profession, hence the name which consigned them to posterity.
The Medicis never forgot their origins and later invested much money
in the Mugello area, building the Trebbio Castle, the Cafaggiolo
Villa, the Bosco ai Frati Convent, the Vicars' Palace at Scarperia,
the Medici Fortress of St. Martin's at San Piero a Sieve, and Villa
Demidoff at Pratolino.
and devotion in Mugello
Christianity reached Mugello in the 3rd century, but only in Lombardic
times was the territory divided into parishes.
The local artistic and architectural heritage formed by countless
churches, chapels, sanctuaries and convents is both extraordinary
and surprisingly little known: the Servite Convent of Montesenario
at Bivigliano; the Medieval Church of St. Agatha dating from earlier
than the year 1000; the Abbey of St. Peter at Moscheta, founded
in 1034 by the Blessed Rodolfo Galigai; the small country church
of Barbiana where Don Milani devised a revolutionary school system
for the children of his poor and illiterate country flock; at Borgo
San Lorenzo, the Holy Crucifix Oratoryand the Church of St. Lorenzo,
with an early Madonna attributed to none less than Giotto; in the
vicinity of Borgo, the Church of St. Giovanni Maggiore, dating from
the 10th century; The Abbey of St. Paul at Razzuolo, founded in
1035 by St. Giovanni Gualberto; the ancient monastery of Badia del
Borgo (St. Reparata in Salto) near Marradi; or the Gamogna hermitage,
founded by St. Pier Damiani around 1053.
Traces of early history...
The traces left by man in the Mugello area date as far back
as the Lower Paleolithic. A Ligurian tribe called Magelli
settled in the valley which became known as Mugello after them.
They lived in the highlands, as the lower part of the valley was
still covered in water. Later there arrived the Etruscans, coming
from Fiesole, and major remains of their settlements are still being
unearthened at Poggio Colla (Vicchio) and Poggio Frascole (Dicomano).
During the 2nd century, the Romans gradually conquered the whole
of Tuscany: a bridge over the Sieve river known since time immemorial
as 'Hannibal's Bridge' dates as early as this. Some perfectly preserved
stretches of paved Roman road near the Futa mountain pass should
instead be ascribed to Consul Flaminius (187 b.C.).
and recent history testimonianze
In the Middle Ages, Mugello was ruled by a few noble families of
country origin who later moved to the city of Florence. In 1306
the City-State of Florence decided to build in Mugello two new walled
towns for military and commercial purposes: Scarperia and Firenzuola
(although the latter was only built some years later in 1332). At
the same time, the towns of Vicchio (in 1324) and Borgo San Lorenzo
(in 1351) were fortified with strong walls. After a time of comparative
welfare between the 14th and 15th centuries, under the Medici grand-duchy,
Mugello was impoverished by frequent famines, plagues and invasions.
The Lorena grand-dukes brought back some economic prosperity to
the area, which in 1860 voted itself into the newly formed Kingdom
of Italy. Along the Bolognese state road near the Futa mountain
pass, a monumental German Cemetery with 30683 soldiers bears witness
to how bloody the fights of the last War were on these mountains.
The Ethnographic exhibition at Bruscoli (Firenzuola) also displays
evidence of World War Two, besides farming tools and other objects
of everyday life from the past.
Performing arts and cultural events
The theatres of Barberino di Mugello and Vicchio host quality winter
seasons. Vicchio also has a celebrated Jazz Festival.
At the end of June, San Piero a Sieve hosts a huge music party called
'Ingorgo Sonoro' (translated roughly as 'Sound
Jam'), while the streets and squares of Vicchio come alive with
the 'Etnica' event. In the warm Summer nights of
July and August, several gardens and squares in the area offer open
air cinema arenas for a 'Movies under the stars' programme,
while on August 15th the waters of the Bilancino lake glitter with
a breathtaking firework display.