Enjoy some springtime sunshine by travelling this ancient route from Vaglia to Fiesole and rediscover its silences, fragrances and exceptional panoramas. The second part runs largely along the crests of hills with broad views over the surrounding valleys and extraordinary glimpses of Florence and, ultimately, Fiesole.
The entire trek runs 22.9 km and should take roughly seven hours. Pay attention to the traffic on the asphalt stretches, and also to sun exposure in the summer months.
Trains for Vaglia leave from Florence and Borgo San Lorenzo. There is bus service from Florence and from the Mugello, as well as to Alberaccio and Fiesole.
The trek starts in Vaglia at the corner of via Bolognese and via della Stazione. Passing close to the station, take the road R leading to Bivigliano (CAI 20), cross the railway through an underpass, and after a short uphill stretch, turn R onto a dirt road (via di Signano). You will soon approach a group of buildings where the little medieval church of Sant'Alessandro a Signano once stood. Continue to zigzag uphill until you reach a completely restored farmhouse (Signano I) and beyond it another farmhouse (Signano II).
After the second farmhouse, the path turns into a country lane that runs through meadows in the direction of the woods (reminder: always shut the gates behind you!). A little way on CAI 20 turns L up a steep, narrow path, but you will keep straight ahead. Further on, in the middle of a cypress wood, leave the Vaglia side of the hills to enter the valley of Riseccioni and Bivigliano.
The route makes a bend to the left and after a brief downhill stretch ends at Sommavilla. From this point until Via del Sorbo it coincides once again with CAI 18, which rises from the Strada Statale of the Futa to the top of Montesenario. The path begins to climb gently, passing close by the farm buildings of Sommavilla di Sopra, then Podere Piamberti, heading towards the edge of the woods. You will eventually reach a dirt road (via del Sorbo) where you'll turn L and pass in front of Villa del Sorbo.
After the villa, you will follow the track until reaching the asphalt road from Vaglia to Bivigliano. Turning R, you'll soon get to the campsite at Poggio degli Uccellini, set in a chestnut wood. Continue towards Bivigliano; after passing Marroneto and leaving via di Corte Nuova on your R, you arrive at Corte Chiarese. At the junction with via del Massonero, turn L and come to the first houses of the well-known summer resort. Leaving the paved road, turn R along a narrow dirt road, which soon turns into a grassy path. You'll shortly arrive in town, emerging first onto via della Fonte and then onto the main street of Bivigliano (via Roma). Follow this as far as the piazza, then take a R on via della Chiesa, then almost immediately turn L towards the Misericordia of Bivigliano. The ancient road from Bivigliano to Montesenario starts here.
Once past the car park the road be-comes grassy and passes through a little wood. Skirting a house, and taking great care not to bear L, aim straight ahead, first down then slightly upwards. Near by a tabernacle, cross via dei Condotti and make your way up along the edge of a pinewood (in the rainy season this stretch of path is often muddy). Leaving the brushwood, you'll emerge into a large meadow; continue along the lower side until, with a final climb (this also often rather muddy) reaching the road to Montesenario.
Turn R along the asphalt that de-scends for about 1 km until you see on your L a cypress tree half hiding a column bearing an inscription dedicated to the Seven Noble Saints of Florence. At this point, make a sharp L, descend to the broad meadows offering marvellous views over Fiesole and Florence. Continue until reaching the via Faentina near the Vetta le Croci pass, only 300m away. Crossing the road, take the path (often muddy) through the pasture mingled with scrub, and shortly come to the minor pass of the Alberaccio, which lies on the asphalt road leading to Molin del Piano.
From the pass of the Alberaccio, crossing the road for Molin del Piano, you'll embark on a dirt road (CAI 2) which first runs parallel to the main road but then, after skirting a few little villas, becomes a mule-track rising gently to a hilltop, only to re-descend to the Passo della Catena. At this point, to our L, after crossing the road at the pass, you'll begin to climb steeply R in a wood of conifers. Through alternating wood and meadowland, with a number of not very demanding ups and downs, you'll come to a saddle, which affords a passage between the valley of the Mugnone and that of Molin del Piano (near Casa Pretena).
After a last climb (with one very short difficult bit), you'll reach Poggio Guadagni and a little later the grasslands of Poggio Pratone where you will be treated to vast panoramas. Passing a stone monument erected in memory of Bruno Cicognani, continue along the broad track, through spacious meadows, past the building which houses radio antennae and repeaters (still on CAI 2) until coming to a junction a little way below.
On your L, you'll find the CAI 3 route for Compiobbi across the plateau of San Clemente; straight ahead is the continuation of CAI 2. Follow this downhill on an easy dirt road, in the direction of Monte Fanna. The route passes from meadowland to mixed woodland, until reaching increasingly dense clumps of cypresses surrounding Casa Monte Fanna, which comes into view just beyond a chain across the way near an asphalt secondary road. Reaching this, only a few hundred metres R takes you to Villa Gargiolti, beyond which a woodland path L enables you to make a high circle round Monte Muscoli and follow a well-kept cart track to the junction where, near a gateway and a tabernacle, you'll leave route CAI 2.
You are now on via Riotorto, a narrow asphalt road that leads down through mixed woodland and cypresses to the Strada Provinciale of Vincigliata. Keeping R once more a short walk brings you to Baccano and the junction with the Strada dei Bosconi coming from Fiesole. Pay close attention at this point: taking the asphalt road L and immediately L again, you'll find a secondary road (via di Baccano) sloping gently downwards. After barely one hundred metres, make a sharp R to follow a shady path running parallel to and below the main road. This path rejoins the asphalt near a litter disposal site opposite a bar. You are now nearing the town of Fiesole.
Passing Casa Peramonda (L) you come to the junction on the road of that name, with signs to a camping site and to the Parco di Monte Ceceri. A short uphill stretch brings you to the campsite and the buildings of Borgunto. You'll find one of the entrances to the Parco di Monte Ceri in the tiny Piazza of Prato dei Pini, while via Corsica slopes down gently R, leading to via Pelagaccio and via degli Scalpellini, enabling you to reach via di Montececeri, which offers one of the most breathtaking panoramas in all of Florence. The road leads L to the Parco di Montececeri, while in the opposite direction, walking through the lovely streets of Fiesole, you reach its heart at Piazza Mino.