Less than 15 km from Tosina, the Vallombrosa Forest opens out under the foliage of arboreta, the most important collections in Italy, grown for scientific and experimental purposes. The monks have lived in the forest since the 11th century in their imposing abbey, which is open to the public; and where simple accommodation for groups is available.
“Vallombrosa così fu nominata una badia ricca e bella ne men che religiosa e cortese a chiunque vi venia“, Ariosto wrote in Orlando Furioso; well said, because the bequests and donations have embellished the monastic austerity with a multitude of artistic works. After visiting the monastic complex, it’s worth stopping at the old pharmacy, where you can purchase natural products for body cures, liquors and confectionary prepared by the monks themselves.
Of equal fame and wonder, a short distance away, is the National Park of the Casentino Forest. Few people know that the imposing , age-old green mantle of vegetation once supplied wood for Pisa’s fleet as well as for the scaffolding of many majestic buildings, like Florence’s Duomo. The ancient Etruscans chose the “Lake of the Idols” as a holy place to settle and, still today, it is the most important archeological site in the Apennines. Footpaths travelled by pilgrims to Rome, once intrigued St. Francis and Dante Alighieri, who paid homage to the “waterfall of silent water” in the Inferno.
Florence is nearby
How can one not visit Florence since it is only 30 kilometres away? The journey there is very pleasant, passing the mountain pass of Consuma, perhaps to stop off to try the famous flat bread known as schiacciata, similar to foccaccia. Enter the city along Via del Moro, which has a number of car parks. Around the corner we are welcomed by the Church of Santa Maria Novella, the one Michelangelo called “la mia sposa”. The beauty of Florence is unveiled one step at a time: one can go easily on foot and discover the Ponte Vecchio, the Cathedral, Piazzale Michelangelo, and the Uffizi Gallery. We suggest you book your tickets in advance for the Uffizi Gallery at this link.
Between the provinces of Florence, Siena and Arezzo (50km circa from Tosina), you get an eyeful of the hills and landscape renowned for its wines. Indeed, the colours of Chianti are worth a visit in any season, and unforgettable. You will find small hamlets sculptured in stone that house reputable wine cellars, open for wine tasting and direct sales.
The cradle of Chianti classico is the region that includes Gaiole, Castellina and Radda, but other less well-known places offer the unexpected. In Greve in Chianti there is the Museum of Wine, as well as the Castello di Vicchiomaggio and the Castello di Verrazzano, both vineyards. In Panzano it is said the best Florentine steak is found here at Macelleria Cecchini – a gem – where the Divine Comedy is recited while the meat is being cut.
Distances and Services
Cities of historic interest:
Firenze/Florence Firenze (28 km), Arezzo (50 km), Siena (90 km), S. Gimignano (75 km), Lucca (95 km), Pisa (100 km).
In Borselli (1 km) you can find a grocer’s, a newspaper shop, a tobacconist and a bar.
In Diacceto (4 km) you’ll find a good butcher in the “Spolveri”area who sells excellent meat, local salami and dry-cured meats. There is also a shopping mall with a Coop supermarket, Locanda “Tinti” complete with bar, pub, home-made ice-cream and restaurant; and the local baker called “La Torre“.
In Pomino (4km) there’s another good butcher “Perigli” that sells local products and is well-stocked with basic grocery items.
In Pelago (7 km): Banca Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, a hairdresser’s, a barber’s, a pharmacy and a grocer’s. There’s also a Coop supermarket, a post office, household goods, and a bar.
Consuma (4km): bars, restaurants, petrol station and parapharmacy.
In Pontassieve (10km) big supermarkets, banks, railway station, hospital and various shops.
Public swimming pool: opening hours