The florentine Elsa Valley lies along the typical tuscan hills, just an hour far from Florence, Pisa and Siena by train or by car, it is still crossed by the famous road Via Francigena, one of the most important medieval routes connecting Canterbury to Rome, and therefore the North sea to the Mediterranean sea.
This area offers different interesting natural landscapes, as well as many different resorts to suit all tastes, like typical stone farm houses (so called farm-castles) and paths for trekking, horse trekking and bicycles.
The project Sweet Country Old Walls was launched in 1992, in order to create a tourist network among different Tuscan centres, like: Montespertoli, Castelfiorentino, Certaldo, Gambassi Terme, San Gimignano and Volterra. Certaldo is a well known centre, mainly because it is Boccaccio’s birthplace and it was his last home (Giovanni Boccaccio, 1313-1375), but it is also famous for being the starting point of two nature parks: the hill Park Canonica and the river park Elsa, including the territories from Gambassi Terme to Castelfiorentino.
A large public park with secular trees is inside the thermal baths of Gabassi, in the city centre; the special water Salsa di Pillo has been famous since the old times, especially suitable to people with digestive problems.
Montaione is another important town, known for its green nature and beautiful hills, an ideal place for people who want to relax, discovering local traditions, like the Bread and Oil Festival, taking place in November every year.
Wine plays an important role here too: the annual Chianti Wine Festival in Montespertoli is a big event, going from the last Sunday in May, to the first Sunday in June. Wine producers, fans and curious tourists come since 1957 to the town, to enjoy this festival, strolling among events, meetings, tastings and concerts.
Barberino Val d’Elsa is surely the “standard-bearer” amongst the small towns in the Florentine province; in 2003 it was awarded with the Orange Flag, a symbol of high quality tourism given by the Italian Touring club. The town has joined a European project called Village Terraneo, its aim is to support the development of smaller towns in southern Europe, in order to define the Mediterranean identity, even if they are not major tourist sites.
Montelupo Fiorentino lies just 15 Km. far from Florence; majolica works have been produced here since the 13th century, reaching the climax between 1450 and 1530, in a time when the famous Tuscan noble families (Medici, Strozzi Frescobaldi) used to buy their pottery here. The most important event for this handicraft is the International Pottery Fair taking place every year during the third week in June. Other interesting events are the Terracotta Fair (in May) and the Glass Tower Fair in July, where glass makers work side by side with women who bottom flasks with woven straw.
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