Many are unaware of the fact that the famous painters Giotto and Beato Angelico were born on the hills of Vicchio. The first was born in Vespignano, and the second among the “People of San Michele a Rupecanina”, a small location not far from the town.
Their paintings bear the colours, the landscapes, the sometimes the protective air and rolling hills that are so typical of the Sieve Valley as it flows through Mugello. And when we stand in the historical centre of Vicchio, with what remains of the ancient walls and with the lovely town set up on top of the hill overlooking the valley, we understand just how important that past was. Vicchio, in fact, had a strong tie with Florence. One historical event in particular bears witness to this fact: in 1529 the Spanish troops, along with those of Pope Clemente VII de’ Medici, invaded Mugello in order to take over Florence. Vicchio remained loyal to the Florentine Republic. The Vicchio army resisted the attack and was able to remain loyal to Florence until 1530 when the City State fell under the control of Philip, Prince of Orange, who sent the Spanish and papal armies to expunge Vicchio.
Benvenuto Cellini was one of the many famous people who resided in Vicchio. He bought a small residence “that lies just two kilometres from Vicchio, towards the Alps”. Casa di Cellini (the house of Cellini - 055 8439225) now stands on the corso del Popolo. It was restored and modernized for the crafting of gold, for exhibitions and conferences.
Dedicated to Beato Angelico is the Museo di Arte Sacra e Religiosità Popolare (museum of Sacred Art and Religiousness - tel. 055 8439225), situated in the centre of the town. Precious artworks were collected here from the churches in Mugello. A space is reserved for oratories, tabernacles and popular religious artefacts. Among the many works of art we find an ancient stele, a glazed terracotta sculpture of “Saint John the Baptist” attributed to Andrea Della Robbia, a mid-15th century “Madonna with Child”, and finally a precious late-Gothic panel by the Maestro di Montefloscoli portraying the “Virgin with Saints and Prophets”.
In the centre of the town we also find Lake Montelleri where you can fish, picnic or just relax.
On the hills of Vespignano, mid-way between Vicchio and Borgo San Lorenzo we find Casa di Giotto (house of Giotto - tel. 055 8439225). The site is more an experience to be lived than a museum to just visit. It is a place designed for encounters on art, culture, and educational events for schools. The paths of Giotto, Cimabue and Beato Angelico run through the territory; they depart from Piazza Giotto in the historical centre of Vicchio and make their way to Casa di Giotto by way of secondary road of great environmental and historical wealth. The route runs through the towns of Pesciola, Pilarciano, Vespignano, ponte di Cimabue, ponte a Vicchio, the Museum of Sacred Art and Reliousness, the house of Giotto and that of Beato Angelico.
But of all the things the town has to offer, we must not forget to mention Barbiana. Set on the foot of Monte Giovi, just a few miles from Vicchio, we find Sant’Andrea Church, a small cemetery, a few farm houses both in the locality and throughout the woods. Barbiana was the place where a very special priest and educator lived. He was a source of enlightenment for numerous children. His name was don Lorenzo Milani. He lived in Barbiana for thirteen years, until his death in 1967 at the age of forty-four. The pleasant climb to Barbiana runs along a part of the S.O.F.T. trails (Sorgenti di Firenze Trekking), the Mugello network of trails . Let's discover how you can visit Barbiana church and school
Take a long walk or bike ride from the centre of Vicchio to Borgo San Lorenzo along the eco-tourism trail that departs from Ponte a Vicchio and is perfect for families with children.