Borgo San Lorenzo
San Lorenzo, patron saint of Borgo and celebrated here with religious and civil initiatives, reminds us that his tears fall on August nights: the stars that, like sparks, seem to fly up above us. In the hills that surround the town you can enjoy new experiences such as lying down under the dark sky – which is now impossible to find in the city – to look for a shooting star and say a wish.
Your first stop should absolutely be reserved for the historic centre, accessible through one of the two gates, Fiorentina and Orologio, remains of the old city walls built in 1351. A visit to San Lorenzo Parish Church, dating back to 941 – the biggest Romanesque church in the Florentine countryside – is a must. Inside is a wealth of works of art. These include: the Madonna attributed to Giotto, a Crucifix canvas of the Giotto school, the Madonna Enthroned with Child attributed to Agnolo Gaddi, and the Virgin and the Saints Francis and Dominic by Matteo Rosselli. The apse was frescoed by Galileo Chini. To the right of the church’s facade there is a polychrome terracotta tabernacle made by the Fornaci Chini. Not far from the city centre, we find the Oratorio del Santissimo Crocifisso dei Miracoli, built in the 18th century to house a painted wooden Crucifix left there in 1400 by German pilgrims fleeing the plague. It is set in a deep niche above the main altar, and is covered by an enormous 19th century “mechanically run” curtain that is lifted on special occasions when the Crucifix is displayed for worshippers.
Near the Oratory, we find Villa Pecori Giraldi, home to the Museo civico della Manifattura Chini (Chini Museum). This amazing villa, surrounded by a beautiful park, houses numerous paintings and architectural works by Galileo Chini and members of his family, while on the first floor of the building, in the halls of the museum, we find an exquisite collection of Liberty-style Art Nouveau ceramics and stained-glass windows.
In the hills sorrounding the town...
A delightful walk awaits you from the square in Grezzano to the Museo della Civiltà Contadina di Casa d’Erci (Museum of Farm Life and Customs – www.casaderci.it), a large farmhouse that has been restored and furnished using period pieces (the bedroom, kitchen, spinning room, laundry etc.), which houses an extensive collection of farm tools from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A little before the Museum, the Mulino ad acqua Faini (Faini water mill), dating back to the fifteenth century, is worth a visit.
From Casa d’Arci, located in the Giogo Casaglia Forestry Complex, you can take round trips to the mountain crests along beaten trails or have lunch in picnic areas. A stop at the Mulino ad acqua Margheri (Margheri water mill) located in Madonna dei Tre Fiumi, with the owner Mr. Cerbai is a must. The mill, probably dating back to 845, is still in perfect working order: you are welcome to view the grinding process and to buy wheat flour, corn flour or chestnut flour with an original flavour. On the opposite side of the road stands an Oratory, built in 1578. You can walk uphill to the Colla di Casaglia Pass, and from there you will find a number of trails, suitable for both hiking and mountain biking through the Giogo Casaglia Forestry Complex or down through chestnut groves to the town of Ronta.