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Monte Morello is a mountain to the north of Florence, located in the municipal territory of Sesto Fiorentino.
Once carpeted by thick vegetation, it was deforested for the construction needs of the city but later, fortunately, restored.

la fonte dei seppi

To enjoy a panoramic tour of the mountain from its southern slope to its north-eastern sides, it may be advisable to travel by car, considering the steep incline and the hairpin bends you meet with when coming up from Sesto Fiorentino – located at the ‘sixth mile’ from Florence, according to the Roman system of centuriation – and more precisely from Colonnata, following the indications “Colli alti” or “Quinto alto”; the itinerary is approximately sixteen kilometers long.
The name of Colonnata recalls the columns of the ancient Roman aqueduct that carried water to Florence from the conduits of Monte Morello. 
Once past the town, with the beautiful Church of San Romolo on the right, you find the small Oratory of Sant’Antonio a Collina and Villa Fedi, which appears to be from the seventeenth-century, although it dates back to an earlier period; then, turning to the left, you come to the Church of Santa Maria a Morello, enlarged in the early sixteenth century, with a lovely small belfry; further on, you reach the Church of San Giusto a Gualdo, whose vicarage houses a shelter; from here, or, if you continue on, from the clearing where the Fonte dei Seppi once flowed forth (today it is still a place to go in summer for pic-nics and for climbing to the mountain top), you reach Poggio all’Aia (934 meters above sea level) by a trail leading up to the cross planted on the peak of Monte Morello; from here you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of Florence and Prato.
After returning down to the road and skirting along the Poggio Balletto, you reach Piazzale Leonardo (595 meters), with two refreshment bars for a taking a rest, one of which is open in summer and has tables outdoors, even in the evening after dinner.
 
Back on the provincial road, after driving a few kilometers through a wooded tract, you reach Ceppeto (552 meters), in whose chapel, which houses a fresco from the latter half of the sixteenth century, mass is celebrated on Sunday mornings; from the forecourt of the chapel, you can reach a café and two near-by restaurants for an enjoyable snack.
 
When you have gone past Ceppeto, and after driving nearly two kilometers on a road through olive groves, you descend to Cercìna, and the Romanesque Parish Church of Sant’Andrea (mentioned since the ninth century) which has a fifteenth-century portico in front, and is flanked by a strangely-shaped bell tower; among several other fine works, the interior conserves a widely worshipped, small wooden statue of the Madonna dating to the late thirteenth-century as well as a fresco, in the right apse, by Domenico and Davide Ghirlandaio, portraying the Saints Jerome, Barbara and Anthony Abbot; it seems, in fact, that the father of the famous Domenico Ghirlandaio owned a country house in these parts.  
Back on the provincial road, you drive in the direction of the city up to Via dell’Uccellatoio; this name is also used to indicate a spur that from Monte Morello thrusts out toward the Mugnone valley, also mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy.
Along the same Via dell’Uccellatoio you come upon the massive structure of the Banti Sanatorium,  completed  in 1939 on land donated by the Demidoff family, owners of the near-by Villa di Pratolino, to the Provincial Administration of Florence, which chose this location for the quality of its clean air; actually composed of two distinct hospitals, the Banti and the Luzzi, the construction, with the typical aspect of littorio style architecture, today appears dilapidated, while awaiting a change of fortune.
Back on Via Bolognese, if you turn left, you will go toward Villa Demidoff a Pratolino and from here, if you go toward Bivigliano, to the Sanctuary of Monte Senario; taking, instead, the regional road 65 to the right, you will return to Florence, passing the village of Montorsoli, the birthplace of Angelo da Montorsoli, a Mannerist sculptor of the school of Sansovino, as well as of the Macchiaiolo painter and sculptor Adriano Cecioni.
Monte Morello is part of the trekking called the Renaissance Ring Trail.

 

 

 

Published: 5/4/2013

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