Difficulty: easy – Length: km 7,5 (passing through the forest the route is extended approx. 1km) – kl: 389
In this excursion, we walk across all of Via di Terzano until we arrive at the small country church of Santa Lucia a Terzano, hidden among the olive trees in this area already documented in 1066.
It’s a very easy route, but I have to warn you that once we get to the church of Santo Stefano there are still another 2 km approximately uphill, which, however, we don’t realize we’re doing if we allow ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the landscape.
Those who don’t stay in the immediate vicinity can park in the square in Croce a Varliano.
If you are coming from Bagno a Ripoli, you can take Via della Martellina to get to the parking lot, this Via retraces the ancient route of the Via Aretina, rejoining the current via Roma in the town of Meoste.
The town owes its name to a house used as a tavern, whose owner was actually called Meo Oste. (1)
This and other names, confirm the existence of a number of stops along the routes of the old roads traveled by travelers, knights and pilgrims since the times of the ancient Florentia.
The excursion starts in via Roma, a few meters before we encounter the Arco del Camicia on the left, which leads us into Via di Terzano. Beyond the Arco, we will seem to be very far from the city, and, once we have passed the beautiful tabernacle that houses a high relief of the “Madonna with Child”, the view opens over rolling hills dotted with farmhouses. From here, we will already see the tall bell tower of the church of Santo Stefano a Paterno, rebuilt in the neo-Romanesque style in the same place a church already mentioned in 1286 used to be found.
We continue to follow the Via di Terzano along the left slope of the Rimaggio valley, also known locally as Borro Tommasino.
After the intersection with Via Paterno, our attention will be attracted by the sight of the beautiful medieval structure of Vignalla, which stands just below us. But, stopping a moment to allow our gaze to fall over the valley, we will also be able to see the Torre di Terigi, a fine example of a medieval “tower house”, amongst wooded areas and olive groves.
Given that we are not in a hurry, we can also relax in the shade of an abandoned olive grove that we find along the way, just a few meters along a path that we see on our right.
Accompanied by the chirping of birds, we pass by the cemetery of Paterno and arrive at the tabernacle of Terzano.
So far, we have covered the most tiring 2.5 kilometers, now the climb is over and a gentle up and down stretch begins in the most wooded part of the road, which continues for about another kilometer up to our destination. As soon as the road comes out of the woods, we find ourselves immersed in a hilly landscape, with the bell tower of Santa Lucia a Terzano in the center.
For the most willing, I would advise you to continue just 10 minutes more along via Terzano and then take the path that enters the wood, recognizable because it’s near a large rock on the side of the road. The trail climbs up until it crosses the paved remains of an alleged Roman road.
Going across the beautiful forest along this track will make you truly feel that you are following the footsteps of ancient travelers. You will be able to imagine pilgrims or crusaders and merchants or knights.
At the crossroads with this road, we turn left and walk along it until we reach the signs of the CAI trails, but for this excursion, we continue only until the town of Bencistà, a group of “worker houses” which have now been restored.
Regarding the origin of the name Bencistà, one of the legends that circulated at the end of the 1800s amongst the farmers of Terzano told that, one day, some nuns drifted away from the monastery atop Mount Cucco, against the will of the Mother Superior. Surprised by a violent storm, they exclaimed: “ben ci stà!” (it serves us right!) (2)
At the end of Via Bencistà, we take Via Ponti di Millo on the left, which leads to Villa Corazze, an ancient “noble home” which belonged to the Bardi family. From here, you have a magnificent view of the hills covered with olive trees and the valley below Rimaggio. At the bottom of the short descent, we can see the church of Santa Lucia, built by the powerful families who had their possessions here.
The beauty of this church is found in its elegant simplicity and its position, sandwiched between the rectory and the dry stone wall, typical of this countryside. The little road rising from the square in front of the church leads to a small clearing where it’s a nice idea to stop and photograph the bell tower but especially because here time seems to have stood still.
The return route along Via di Terzano will truly be “a walk”, all downhill.
- Silvano Guerrini – “Fra terra e cielo”. (Between the Earth and Sky)
- Borghi e colline. Un sentiero nel territorio di Bagno a Ripoli (Villages and hills. A path in the Bagno a Ripoli area) – Gruppo trekking Bagno a Ripoli – Edizioni Multigraphic Firenze