Florence was a place of both love and pain for Dante and was often cited in his Divine Comedy. In his day, the art, culture, religion, economy and politics of Florence were undergoing dramatic change.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982 and home to a prestigious university, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and the Italian language, thanks to the Florentine vernacular which was used in literature.
It is universally recognised as the cradle of art and architecture and one of the most beautiful cities in the world, thanks to its many monuments and museums.
Florence is renowned for the highest concentration of works of art in the world.
Borgo San Lorenzo
Under the House of Hapsburg-Lorraine in Tuscany, Borgo San Lorenzo became the most important centre in the whole Mugello area, thanks to its centrally located position and the boom in building and farming introduced by the Grand Duchy.
In the nineteenth century, the town’s importance was further confirmed by the systematic, organised development of industry and, at the turn of the century, the creation of the railway network which linked the town with Florence, Faenza and Pontassieve. In 1861 Borgo San Lorenzo was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy by King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy.
The town is ideal for nature lovers, as there are many trails and paths around Borgo San Lorenzo which tourists and hikers can enjoy all year round.
Also known as "Castle", Marradi was a popular place of rest and refreshment for wayfarers, while the etymology of the name "Marradi" is "marrato", which means ‘hoed’ in Italian, indicating the land on the right of the Lamone river.
The area around the town is rich in woodland and crystal-clear streams, ideal for anyone who loves hiking, cycling or horseback riding. One of the most famous walks goes from the centre of the town to Rocca di Castiglionchio, an ancient 6th-century fort which towers over the whole of the Lamone Valley.
A second, more challenging walk will take you to the Hermitage of Gamogna, an old monastic complex founded by San Pier Damiani in 1053, which can be reached along a path from Lutirano, Ponte della Valle which is located on the provincial road which links Marradi to San Benedetto in Alpe.
BrisighellaStop on the Saturday day trip
Brisighella is a lively town, steeped in tradition and with some incredibly beautiful architecture and scenery. It is also the recipient of some of the most prestigious awards in Italy (Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, Città Slow, Orange Flag of the Italian Touring Club), recognition of its excellence and its quality of life.
Art, history and architecture can all be found in the old town centre, with a maze of ancient narrow streets, visible sections of the town’s walls and staircases carved out of gypsum.
The town gradually grew in size and importance, thanks to a number of factors: its position along the road that ran along the bottom of the Lamone Valley, which was ideal for trade; the presence of two fortifications (the fortress and the tower); the abundance of gypsum, a highly prized building material which the locals could trade.
FaenzaStop on the Saturday day trip
Faenza’s history has always been inextricably linked to its ceramics, especially majolica, and it is so famous, it is known the world over as "faience".
Founded by the Romans, the town was artistically and culturally lively and became an important centre of Neoclassicism in Italy and Europe.
The town is also home to one of the most important ceramics museums in the world and has over sixty ceramics workshops where artisans and artists produce objects with the “ceramic D.O.C.” trademark, from historical reproductions to experimental artistic pieces.
Close to the Apennine foothills, the surrounding areas are very scenic, with rural tourism of the same high standard as that found in the town.
Throughout its history, Ravenna has been a capital three times: of the Western Roman Empire (402-476), the Ostrogothic Kingdom (493-553) and the Byzantine Exarchate (554-751).
It is the second largest municipality in Italy and an impressive, intellectually active and stylish town. It is a short distance from the Adriatic Sea and has no fewer than eight monuments which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Like the Basilica of San Vitale, the masterpiece of 6th-century Byzantine art, or the beautiful mosaics in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia and the Baptistery of Neon.
Ravenna is the final destination for the ‘Treno di Dante’ and it is here that Dante wrote Paradise, the final part of his Divine Comedy. His funeral was held in the Basilica of Saint Francis and his tomb stands just outside it; considered a national monument, there is an area of respect and silence around it which is called the “Dante area”.