The green area of Montalbano extends for 16.000 hectares in the nearby of Florence, Pistoia and Prato.
The landscape is dominated by hills with grapevine cultivation occurring in the plains or on terraced fields, olive trees spreadingover the higher areas,and at the summits chestnut trees (a typical example of introduced vegetation).
Between the 16th-17th centuries approximately 10,000 acres of Montalbano were tranformed by the Medici into the. Barco Reale Mediceo, a vast area used a reserve for hunting in which short portions of the perimeter wall surrounding the area still exist today.
The area of Montalbano is particularly suited for walks and exursions, thanks to an extensive network of walking and biking trails which lead through the green hilly countryside, past archeological sites, and into the ancient woods like the oak-wood of Pietramarina.
The built-up area is characterized by country villas, elegant farms and numerous farmhouses placed on various holdings; considering the determinant action of man on the environment, the new definition of "country-garden" has been given to this area, to underline the great importance of farmer, who has made this area more beautiful and productive thanks to numerous works, like terraced fields (the extensions of vineyards and olive-groves disposed on the hills).
Today Montalbano is an area of ecological tourism, thanks to a different use of houses and lands ; an agrituristic management of the area has developed with success thanks to agricultural activities, whether traditional or unusual (from the production of olive-oil and wine to that of honey, cheese, jam and officinal herbes) and to the increase of touristic attractions.
Municipal archaeological museum of Artimino
Etruscan art and findings of Artimino settlement
V.le Papa Giovanni XXII (in Villa Medicea "La Ferdinanda")
59015 ARTIMINO - PO - Tel: +39-(0)55-8718124
Monday to Saturday 9.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.
Sunday 9.00 a.m. - 12.30 a.m.
Closed on Wednesdays.
Leonardiano Museum of Vinci
It contains one of the largest and most original collections of machines and models of Leonardo inventor, technologist, and engineer.
Castello dei Conti Guidi, 1
50053 VINCI - FI - Tel: +39-(0)571-56055
Open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Leonardo's house can be thought as a natural integration of the visit to the Leonardiano Museum in Vinci. It contains reproductions of some drawings by Leonardo, representing the Tuscan countryside.
Loc. Anchiano 50053 VINCI - FI - Tel: +39-(0)571-56055
Monday to Sunday 9.30 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
1st March to 31st October from 9.30 am to 7.00 p.m.
Grapevine and wine museum of Medicean Trail of Carmignano wine
In the rooms of an historical wine house is located a museum dedicated to the wine – making production of the Montalbano.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, Carmignano (PO)
Tel. +39-(0)55-8712468 - 8750265
9.00 a.m. - 12.00 a.m., 3.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Closed on Mondays.
Museum of Contemporary Art and of the Twentieth Century "Il Renatico" in Monsummano Terme
"Collezione Civica - Il Renatico", temporary exhibition of contemporary art, with historical studies, catalogues and multimedia, educational laboratories about contemporary art and twentieth - century languages.
Via Gragnano, 349 - 51015 Monsummano Terme (PT) Tel. +39 (0)572 952140
Monday 9.00 a.m. – 12.00 a.m.
Wednesday to Friday, 3.30 p.m. – 6.30 p.m (winter), 4.00 p.m. - 7.00 p.m. (summer)
Saturday and Sunday 9.00 a.m. – 12.00 a.m., 3.30 p.m. – 6.30 p.m. (winter), 4.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m. (summer)
Closed on Tuesdays
Casa Giusti Museum in Monsummano Terme
Dedicated to the Poet Giuseppe Giusti in his home.
V.le Martini, 18 - 51015 Monsummano Terme (PT) Tel. +39-(0)572-950960
Open all days except for Tuesdays from 8.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. (summer); from 8.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and from 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. (winter)
Il Barco Reale Mediceo
The Medici in 1626, realized the Barco Reale, a game preserve encircled by a wall of approximately 50 kilometers in the area of Montalbano, in order to protect, but also to hunt, wild boars, hares, partridges, pheasants, francolins, etc. The woods (oaks, chestnut trees, mulberry trees, pines, ilexes, fir-trees, elms, walnut-trees, cypresses, etc.) and shrubs (broom, juniper, myrtle, hawthorn, etc.) were rigorously protected . In the first decades of the 17th century the huntings suffered a certain decline and also the Barco was slowly neglected; with the transfer of the estate to the Lorena (1736) the management of the farms was entrusted to the tenant farmers who looked after the interests of the landlords. After the half of the 18th century the fall of the commerce of timber and the amount of works, to put the enclosures and the lands inside the preserve in order, caused a standstill situation unblocked only after the accession to the throne of Pietro Leopoldo (1765). Some important measures brought about a change in the utilization of these areas.
THE ENCLOSING WALLS In origin the enclosing walls (50 kilometers long) constituted the limit of the preserve . At present we can see remains and traces only for 30 kilometers. The masonry is in sandstone of great dimensions with lime mortar. Gates and sluice gates were spaced out long the wall; the gates are disappeared while some sluice gates remain . The remains of the wall are a " cultural property " which must be protected and enhanced.
La Lecceta di Pietramarina
The ilex grove has got a surface of about 5 hectares and entirely covers the top at 570-580 meters above sea level. If you go through this wood you become aware of its particular glamour. Part of these trees are ancient holm-oaks which are considered perfect living monuments with their wide, close foliages of dark green color, that allow just a gentle light to filter through so hindering the undergrowth. What is impressive is the trunks majesty of some exemplars: the biggest has a diameter of about 1.5 meters. The youngest oaks have got an upright, smooth trunk which rises up looking for light, while the eldest tend to branch off from the bottom. On the old trunks there are sometimes cavities, which are old scarred wounds that these trees have obtained with a callous tissue. Inside these small gorges there is a multitude of wild fauna specimen. The wood is made up not only of oaks but there are also other species such as holly, turkey oak and cedar. In the inner open space, where the rays of the sun filter through the undergrowth is composed of butcher's broom, ivy, brambles, crane's - bill and fern, however the undergrowth is poor especially where the thickness of the trees obstruct the light.
The Area of Querciola
The "bucchero" and the classic black and white ivory are testimonies of the Etruscan civilisation in the territory of Carmignano (at least until the 1st century B.C.).The Etruscan settlement was located on the tops of Artimino hill. The acropolis was in the vicinity of the Villa of one hundred chimneypots (Villa Ferdinanda), while the houses were placed close to the castle . In the local "Museo Archeologico Comunale" (Municipal Archaeological Museum) we can admire great part of the findings coming from Etruscan houses (fragments of bucchero vases and sandstone sculptures, ceramics imported from Etruria and from Greece, objects of domestic use, table and cooking crockery, bronze and silver coins, fragments of amphoras for wine and terracotta building material) and from the necropolis ( the famous bucchero censer with an inscription from the tomb of tumulus C of the "Prato di Rosello" , and then two sets of unguentarium of the 7th century B.C.).
The Hill of Monsummano
For the lovers of nature a walk on the slopes of the Hill of Monsummano Alto is an opportunity not to miss, since the morphological peculiarities of the hill and the rare vegetation, which covers it, make it one of the more evocative places of the range of Montalbano. Walking along the itineraries through the ancient local roads or following the geological path of the Hill of Monsummano, realized by the Municipal Administration in 1988, which begins in front of the thermal establishment Grotta Giusti, it is possible to visit places of naturalistic interest . The nature of the thermal grottoes (they are among the most famous natural warm grottoes in Europe), is connected to the peculiar morphology of the Hill of Monsummano where it is possible to read the geological history of the region. To the structure of the hill are moreover associated peculiar characteristics of vegetation like the presence of 24 different species of wild orchids .