On the naturalistic level the territory of Santa Maria a Monte represents a resource to discover, which surprises for the degree of biodiversity and for the environmental heritage offered.
Small patches of land characterized by a modest extension, but with a notable botanical value with rare and hidden plant species of enormous significance. places of nature to be jealously guarded, to which you can approach on tiptoe, but surely to know and love.
Historic Center Ring – Villa Mori
Departure: La Rocca Archaeological Area
Length: 3,253 km Duration: 1.5 h Difficulty: Medium-Low
The route starts from the Archaeological Area “La Rocca”, a primitive settlement of the castle already attested since 906, to then touch the “Casa Carducci” Museum, with the works of the Master Antonio Possenti dedicated to the Nobel Prize Giosuè Carducci, who stayed here together to the family from 1856 to 1858.
Leaving the historic center from Via San Michele, the urban route includes, in addition to the botanical peculiarities of the garden of Villa Mori (monumental beech, white water lilies, badger and numerous cedars of considerable size), the presence of numerous spring blooms (Crocus, various species of Anemone, Viola) and autumn. The recent passage of fire in the surrounding areas makes the study of the development of post-fire coenoses particularly interesting.
Historic Center Ring – Prataccio
Length: 5.131 km Duration: 1.5 h Difficulty: Medium-Low
Exit the historic center of Santa Maria a Monte along Via Grazie, and continue along Via Querce. At the intersection of Via Crinale and Via Melone, turn left down Via Prataccio. A downhill dirt road of about 300 meters connects with Via Lungomonte, at the end of which it is necessary to take Via Costa, on the left. Characterized by a steep climb, in the end we find ourselves in the historic center of Santa Maria a Monte.
Ring of the Tonsana-Pozzo
Departure: Via Lungomonte – Santa Maria a Monte
Length: 4.933 km Duration: 1 h Difficulty: Low
From Via Lungomonte, go up Via Pozzo, characterized by a short initial asphalted stretch and about 800 meters of dirt road. It can be reached past the Fortress of Pozzo, of early medieval origin.
The first document in which mention is made of a place that can be identified with Pozzo is 844. In the mid-11th century, the fortunes of the fortress were linked to an important family from Lucca, the Rolandinghi, and then passed into the hands of the Cadolingi family, great owners of the Middle Lower Valdarno. During the 14th century it passed to the hospital of Altopascio, which placed the administrative headquarters of the assets owned in the Valdarno. It is with the arrival of the Albizzi that the fortress takes on the connotation of villa-farm, organized around the manor house, the annexes and the service structures, the church of San Pietro, rebuilt and used as a noble chapel.
After passing Pozzo, the road connects us to the asphalted Via Bindone, which must be taken for a hundred meters to the intersection with Via Tonsana, on the right. Traveled along Via Tonsana for about 200 meters, you have to turn right onto a downhill road that connects with Via Lungomonte and takes you back to the starting point.
Note, on the left, the Chapel of San Lorenzo in Lignano, a building rebuilt in the fifteenth century and witness of the early medieval center known as vicus Leonianus in two documents dating back to the end of the VIIIth and the beginning of the IXth century.
Ring of the Monumental Farnia
Departure: Via Tonsana – Santa Maria a Monte
Length: 2.335 km Duration: 30 min. Difficulty: Low
The starting point is from Via Tonsana. Before the road that connects with Via Lungomonte, on the left is the path that leads into the woods to the Farnia Monumentale di Tonsana. It is the largest tree of the Cerbaie, with a circumference of 5 meters, a diameter of 1.6 meters and a calculated height of almost 45 meters. The estimated age ranges from 220 to 250 years, with an average annual growth rate of the stem of 0.7 cm.
From the back of the great Farnia, the path laps and follows the Rio delle Tre Fontine, along which there are innumerable farnias of considerable size. You arrive at a large amphitheater open space, from which you can take the path to the left that connects to the forest road. From here you can easily regain the starting point.
Ring of Rio Cannellaio
Departure: Cerretti – Santa Maria a Monte
Length: 1,847 km Duration: 20 min. Difficulty: Low
The beginning of the ring is from the Parish Church of Cerretti, a town in the Municipality of Santa Maria a Monte. Almost totally unpaved, on the right of the Church’s premises, it is possible to follow a path that leads us into the Cerbaie woods. Path for about 200 meters, the road leads us to a path even more beaten, where you choose to go north. The path, ring-shaped, brings us back, following it in a westerly direction, towards Via Cerretti, from which we then return to the starting point.
Ring of Casa Poggio
Departure: Via Mariani – Santa Maria a Monte
Length: 3.918 km Duration: 1 h Difficulty: Medium-Low
The departure is near Via Mariani, at number 65. Take the dirt road on the left up to an abandoned farmhouse, where you need to take the path to the north. From here you arrive on the Via Valdinievole Nord which, taking you to the right, rejoins us on Via Mariani to the starting point.
Ring of “Le Pianore”
Departure: Medici Villa “Le Pianore” – Santa Maria a Monte
Length: 5.483 km Duration: 1 h Difficulty: Medium-Low
The route starts from the Medici Villa, built in 1592 by Grand Duke Ferdinando I, who probably made use of the contribution made by Bernardo Buontalenti during the design phase. The building is configured as an architecture linked to rural use, confirmed by the simple design of the elevations, in which the decorative element is reduced to a minimum, by small windows and by the two dovecot towers used for drying agricultural products.
The route includes a comparison between the two typical areas of the territory: the Cerbaie oak forest and the Bientina Padule, in its southernmost portion. Interesting floristic emergencies (glacial wrecks, trees of high naturalistic interest) and faunistic (in particular the birds of the marshes, but also the sylvan fauna) accompany the route without harshness.