The arrival of crisp autumn weather is the perfect excuse for a Tuscan hike. And what better goal than the breathtaking views along the walk from Impruneta to Florence?
The hike can be direct, starting in Impruneta (see ‘Getting there’, below) and heading straight down to Florence. Or split it into two ‘legs’, with a stopover at the impressive Certosa monastery; each half should take roughly two hours. Both are relaxing walks.
Begin the hike in Impruneta, in front of the basilica of Santa Maria in Piazza Buondelmonti. Cross through the historic centre by way of via Paolieri and via Roma until you reach the beautiful and picturesque Villa Carrega. Here you will find a sweeping panoramic view of Poggio Firenze, the Monti del Chianti, the Apennine mountains and the Pratomagno.
Just beyond the villa lies Viale Aldo Moro, in the tiny town of Desco. Bear right on the road to Florence through the tiny hamlet, Pozzolatico. After roughly one kilometre, turn left uphill—pausing to admire the unusual house on the corner. The paved via di San Miniato a Quintole rises steeply before becoming a dirt road that leads to the church of the same name. Though few of the church’s medieval characteristics remain intact, the attached cemetery is definitely worth a visit. The fountain out front is also not to be missed.
Continue along the country roads through olive groves to the i Baruffi area, where you will come to a fork in the road surrounded by small modern villas. Bear right onto via le Rose, towards the village of the same name, and you will arrive at the beautiful Villa Antinori.
Turn right at the corner of the villa by passing through the cypress-lined entrance and continue down the long white road. Once past Villa Brancolano, you will be treated to non-stop gorgeous views, particularly from above the Certosa.
While still among the olive groves, take a sharp left just before the farmhouse and head steeply downhill. Follow the long road down to the car park at Bottai on the via Cassia. (On the stretch between the last farmhouse and the car park you will see a keep out sign that reads ‘Cancello chiuso—Strada privata’. Pay no attention, as it is in fact a service road that you can walk along without problem.)
The road appears to end at a permanently locked gate. Approximately 100 metres before the gate, turn left, climb over the low wall, and you will be in the car park.
To reach the Certosa, turn right on the via Cassia to go towards Florence. After approximately 100 metres, turn left onto via di Colleramole then right on via Buca di Certosa. Look to your left for the old stone ramp leading to the entrance to the ancient monastery.
After visiting the Certosa, walk back towards the car park and down via Senese towards Galluzzo. From Piazza Acciaoli, turn right along via Silviani. Stay straight through the intersection until you find on your left a steep alleyway called via Santa Maria Celeste. Go up the alley until you reach Villa Le Piazzole. Continue right along the junction opposite the villa, via San Matteo in Arcetri.
Keep climbing and you will arrive at Pian dei Giulliari, where you will pass directly in front of Villa ‘Il Gioiello’, where Galileo Galilei died in 1642. Skirting the wall surrounding the Observatory of Arcetri you will come to the Volsamminiato junction. Turn right on via Torre del Gallo and follow it to Piazzale degli Unganelli. Take the narrow, winding via del Giramonte on your right and you will arrive at the walls surrounding the basilica of San Miniato al Monte. Reach the church’s magnificent cemetery by circling down the path until you get to via Monte alle Croci, where, after a short stretch of gravel road, you will emerge onto Piazzale Michelangelo and be rewarded with the most stunning views of Florence.