If you are visiting the countryside surrounding Florence, don't miss the beautiful Cerreto Guidi which is only 30 minutes from Florence.
Set in the Valdarno area, Cerreto is a small charming village you can visit in a few hours and then visit several important villages in the area including Leonardo's home town of Vinci, Italy's largest remaining swamp area called the Padule di Fucecchio a preserved area with rare flora and fauna and Montalbano, an ideal area for hikes and spending days in the outdoors.
Situated on a hill in Chianti and surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, it preserves all the characteristics of a typical Renaissance village. Thanks to its intact Villa Medicea and ancient streets, old homes and small artisan workshops, you can breathe an authentic historical atmosphere.
The heart of the village is in its small, circular centre which is dominated by the magnificent 16th century Villa Medicea, whose central position allows one to enjoy a view of the gorgeous surrounding landscape.
The Villa was designed and built by Buontalenti in 1555 by order of Cosimo I dei Medici who used it mainly as a hunting residence for the family.
The villa is quite famous due to a legend that surrounds the mysterious death of Isabella dei Medici: it is said that she died at the hands of her husband, Paolo Giordano I Orsini, duke of Bracciano, who strangled her after of a presumed betrayal. Since then, it is said that the ghost of the sad Isabella still roams around the villa seeking peace. The legend attracts many visitors who want to see the bedroom where the alleged murder took place.
Villa Medicea is now a museum where you can find many portraits and antique furniture of the Medici family. The first floor also houses the Historical Museum of Hunting and of the Territory created in 2002 which showcases hunting weapons from the 17th through 19th centuries.
If you are in the area in September, we highly recommend making your way to Cerreto to see the historical event of the Palio of Cerro. Every September since 1969, Cerreto Guidi is home to this Renaissance-era event in which the four "Contrade" (neighborhoods) of the village compete against each other in traditional games and races in honour of Santa Liberata, the patron saint of Cerreto. It's exciting to attend the parade in Renaissance-era costume which includes the participation of all the town's residents, from the smallest children to the oldest grandparents.
In July, taste Tuscany's extraordinary cuisine in Cerreto Guidi during the Sagra del Papero e del Cinghiale, food festivals dedicated to wild boar and excellent wines at the Chianti DOCG exhibition.
Have you heard about the delicious Bistecca alla Fiorentina? In Cerreto, head to the exclusive "Adriano Restaurant" where you can enjoy one of the best bistecca cooked to perfection as only an authentic Florentine chef can do.
Would like to take a walk in the countryside sipping a Tuscan glass of wine? No problem as you're in Tuscany! Spend a wonderful time following the wine route called "Strade del Vino e dell'olio del Montalbano" which represents an extraordinary journey through the vineyards and olive trees from Cerreto to Vinci or from Cerreto to Padule di Fucecchio, during which you are able to taste many wines and oils made in the surrounding Florentine hills while discovering the beautiful art and culture of the territory.