A thousand shades of Autumn in Empolese Valdelsa and Montalbano

Leaves change color, the air gets cooler day by day and around the streets of the town center,  as if by magic, you start to feel the smell of roasted chestnuts … In an instant it is autumn, a season which can be gloomy, but which is no less suitable for an outing in the heart of Tuscany! Here are some tips for an autumn route  around woods of many colors, small museums to discover and local products for you to savor.

Veduta vinci con vigneLeonardo’s hills
Vinci and the paths of the Montalbano

Vinci, a town that has seen the birth of the great Leonardo and where you can still follow the Genius’ trail, is the first stop on our itinerary. Here, in any season, do not miss a visit to the Leonardo Museum, with its collection of machines and models inspired by the drawings of Leonardo and his birthplace, where you can discover the most intimate aspects of his biography and his pictorial work. The house is located just outside the center, in Anchiano, and is the perfect starting point for hiking on the slopes of Montalbano. Well indicated and easy to follow, the paths number 14and 16 will lead you in the heart of Leonardo’s hills where, among chestnut and oak trees, small streams flow punctuated by bridges and old mills. Autumn tinged the leaves of trees of a thousand shades of yellow and red and it is undoubtedly the best time to ‘get lost’ among woods and clearings.

Art landscapes
From Vinci to Montelupo Fiorentino, via Pietramarina

Leaving behind the city of Leonardo and proceeding towards  Carmignano, the landscape changes as we climb up the hill: the vineyards give way to olive groves followed by of chestnut and oak trees. Driving on this scenic drive, the Arno valley opens up before your eyes and you can admire breathtaking views. Reached Pietramarina, where you can leave the car and walk for a few kilometers until you reach the famous Devil’s Stone, you go back down through the small village of Castra, until Limite sull’Arno. From here you head to Capraia Fiorentina and you get to Montelupo Fiorentino, known as the City of Ceramics. A walk through the old town, surrounded by artisan shops, stores and cafes,gives you  a glimpse of how even today the ancient manufacturing traditions of this lively town continues. The most interested visitors,  will be able to finally get lost among the thousands of ceramics in the Museum of Ceramics where is it possible to  trace the history of this product from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The gateway to the Chianti Area
From Montelupo Fiorentino to Montespertoli, through Botinaccio

Montespertoli vendemmia 1With eyes still shining for the glazes of Montelupo ceramics we starts to plunge again in the striking color of our hills in autumn. From Montelupo Fiorentino, following signs for Botinaccio, we climb up a characteristic hilly road which, curve after curve, gives us Tuscan postcard views. And then we get to Montespertoli, true gateway to the Chianti region. Here the protagonist is the wine, symbol of autumn and testimonial product for the town. It is indeed very famous the Chianti Montespertoli, refined kind of the famous Tuscan wine produced exclusively on the town hills. To  wine is dedicated the Museum of the Vine and Wine, where you discover the roots of the Tuscan winemaking tradition and you can follow step by step the process of wine production. Before leaving Montespertoli do not forget to stop by for a savory taste directly at the Museum or at one of the many farms scattered throughout the countryside.

The haunting beauty of Valdelsa
From Montespertoli to Montaione

From Montespertoli following the signs to Castelfiorentino we will be traveling along one of the most spectacular route of our territory: after passing the town of Ortimino the road proceeds on a ridge overlooking the Empolese valley on the  right and the Elsa Valley on the left. Vineyards and fields as far as the eye can see which in Autumn constantly change hue, giving you  a new landscape every day. Make a stop in Castelfiorentino, with its small, lively old town and museums that display some of  the Tuscan art masterpieces: the Bego, which houses the splendid frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli and the Museum of Santa Verdiana, where stands the precious Madonna with child by Cimabue and Giotto. From here few kilometers separate us from Montaione, the  last stop on the itinerary. Still immersed in the gentle hills of Val d’Elsa, you will reach the medieval village of Montaione that in addition to being an excellent starting point for a hike on the trails of the River Carfalo, on 29 and 30 October hosts Tartufesta, historical exhibition of local products, first of all truffles to be discovered and sampled from one stand to another.

Total travel distance by car: 55 km
Excursions : paths  14 and 16 on Montalbano, Parco dell’Alta Valle del Torrente Carfalo
Museums : Museo Leonardiano, Casa Natale di Leonardo, Museo della Ceramica di Montelupo, Museo della Vite e del Vino, BeGo Museo Benozzo Gozzoli, Museo di Santa Verdiana.