Sant’Agata or Santagata is a satellite village of Scarperia in Mugello on the outskirts of Florence. Already in the fifth century a church, sign a stable religious community, existed in Santagata jewel of Mugello. Other testimonies date back to the Etruscan period. They are 2 commemorative stones of the VI century b.c. They were found right near the village on the slopes of the overlying hill. Also the Roman period has returned many evidences of rural settlements and manufacturing activities. One of these are the five brick and pottery kilns found in the area. This introductory 2-mins video will be useful for you to appreciate what you will encounter in the article.
Around the twelfth century, the population of Santagata jewel of the Mugello significantly increases. At the same time there is also a resumption of economic activities. They are so important as to require the construction of a much more imposing church than the previous one.
At this moment Sant’Agata is a well-structured urban nucleus centered around the parish church. To control the direct road system to Bologna, two castles rise, They were built after the year 1000 AD to the north not far from the village. The castle of Ascianello dating back to the tenth century was destroyed in 1260 by the Ghibellines. There was also the famous castle of Montaccianico, a powerful fortification of the feudal consortium of the Ubaldini family. Montaccianico had double walls, and was finally destroyed in 1306 by the Republic of Florence after a very long siege. Montaccianico is a protected archaeological site that you can visit with a guide.
Santagata jewel of Mugello is the ideal place to start hiking, mountain biking, or just road cycling. Also the recent route of the Via degli Dei/Gods’ trail passes through Sant’Agata before reaching the San Piero a Sieve. After Sant’Agata towards Galliano, in my opinion, lies the most beautiful piece of the Mugello countryside. Something that makes it unique and different for example from the Chianti or the Valdorcia countryside. You can perceive behind you to the north the imposing chain of the Apennines with mountains that reach up to 1300 meters. The passes are those of the Giogo and the Futa around 900 metres. Coming down from the Apennine mountains appears a whole ecosystem with beech, chestnut and oak woods. Then come the olive tree groves and some sparse vineyard patches. Towards the valley a harmonious alternation of higher and lower hills. Then a picturesque pond with horses and sheep grazing around it. In the distance Bilancino lake. Truly a tourist marvel to try in person dear reader. Of course there are plenty of accommodation opportunities in or near Sant’agata jewel of Mugello.
But let’s get inside this wonderful village to see its most beautiful work ever. It is of course the ancient Romanesque parish church of sant’Agata jewel in the jewel. As I said above, it was erected in the twelfth century over an early Christian church of the fifth century. There are clear traces of this early church near the entrance on the floor. The considerable size of the church is a striking element compared to the modesty of the small town. This can be explained by its geographical position at the foot of the Apennines.
From here started two trails that already from the XII century went to Bologna. These trailas went through the Passes of the Vecchia and the Osteria Bruciata. These mountain passes later became the main Bologna-Florence link. The function of the Pieve-church was therefore also of assistance to travelers, merchants and pilgrims crossing the Apennines. The pilgrims were particularly numerous with the Jubilees of 1300 and 1350.
The gabled façade originally appeared with a classic Romanesque rose window visible below the single-light window. The jambs and the architrave of the portal are in stone. Above is a serpentine lunette inlaid with a Greek cross pattern. On the northern side lies the turreted bell tower with a quadrangular plan. This bell tower is currently much lower than the original because of the collapse caused by the earthquake of 1542. The interior is also very beautiful and is divided into three naves. The roof is supported by beautiful wooden trusses ending with a quadrangular apse flanked by two chapels. You can admire the sculpture depicting Sant’Agata in pink marble in the counter wall. Also on the altar you can admire the reliquary of Sant’Agata. The most valuable piece is the baptistery consisting of seven inlaid panels joined by carved frames. There are other masterpieces of which we be found reference on the site of the museums of Sant’Agata.
However the wonders of this village do not end here. In fact we must mention at least 4 other must-see places of interest in the visit to Santagata jewel of Mugello.
The center of archaeological documentation:
It documents the main archaeological finds of the Western Mugello. They span a long period that goes from prehistory to the modern age. The prehistory hall is of considerable interest. Also documented are the Etruscan and Roman period, as well as the medieval one. A large model reconstructs the siege of the castle of Montaccianico by Florence in 1306. Next to the exhibition, a prehistoric village with reconstructed huts with natural dimensions and furnished with all the objects used for hunting and for work. Particularly suitable for children but interesting for everyone.
the collection of sacred art:
Set up in an oratory of 1508, the collection dislays paintings, sculptures and minor works of art from the Pieve di Sant’Agata and from tabernacles and churches in the area. Among the main works: “Mystic Marriage of Santa Caterina” by Bicci di Lorenzo (1430); “Madonna with Child and Saints” by Jacopo Vignali of 1632; two praying Angels in white enamelled terracotta by Andrea della Robbia; “Madonna with Child and San Giovannino”, polychrome terracotta by Giovanni della Robbia (XVI cent.); “San Michele Arcangelo” by Lorenzo Lippi (1606-1665), The altar table “Madonna and Child, San Jacopo and S.Agata “of the school of Rodolfo del Ghirlandaio. Really precious is a processional Cross of 1378 in gilded copper. This collection was made possible by the hard work of Rev. Corrado Paoli parish priest and a Santagata local.
Museum of “Leprino”:
Finally it is worthwhile especially if there are children, to see the Museum of “Leprino”. Actually the complete name would be exhibition of artisan and peasant life with moving figures of Leprino. This original exhibition was made some decades ago by Faliero Lepri, known by all as Leprino. It ‘reproduces’ the village of Sant’Agata in the period 1920-1950. This museum boasts a careful reconstruction of buildings and streets, squares and alleys. In these environments the characters that Leprino has made of papier-mâché move thanks to to an original mechanism. These characters are intent on their occupations of home and work. We find the family around the fireplace, the cobbler, the knife sharpener, the blacksmith, the inn keeper and many other scenes of work and life. Particularly suitable for children but interesting for everyone.
Parrini’s ancient water mill:
The mill has very ancient origins, probably medieval, but documented only from the XVI century. It was from the seventeenth century the property of the Marquis Salviati, the noble Florentine family related to the Medici family. Today it is still working thanks to the care of the Parrini family that runs the mill since 1700. In 1700 there was also a Gualchiera for the fulling of clothes. Next to the mill a brick kiln had been active for centuries.
For schedules and services of museums and landmarks in Santagata jewel of Mugello you can download this file