Updated: Jul 18, 2022
Mugello, the green valley between the Appenine Mountains and the Emilia-Romagna border, is a small area that one might easily overlook. The villages are small and the streets are quiet, but underneath the surface, this subregion of Tuscany is bursting with culture and tradition. Read on to learn about the top 10 cultural facts about Mugello!
#1 They're known for their Leather Craftsmanship.
Photo: CAF Leather
Besides its already rich artistic history as home to the great artists Giotto and Beato Angelico, Mugello also prides itself on its leather craftsmanship. Traditional leather processing has its roots in the Medici era, when Mugello was home to one of the great manufacturers of leather shoes. These fine craftsmanship skills have been passed down from generation to generation and you can still find a few leather workshops today, such as CAF Leather, where leather goods of modern taste are produced by hand.
#2 For ages, the crop that sustained the local people financially and provided a main food source was Chestnuts.
The first documents to mention the cultivation of chestnut trees in Mugello date back to the Middle Ages. However, we know that the origins go back as far as the Roman period. Chestnuts were one of the greatest economic and livelihood resources for the mountain areas of the Mugello area. In fact, until the end of WWII, chestnuts were the main food for the inhabitants of the Tuscan mountains for many months of the year. Unfortunately, two serious diseases have decimated the chestnut crops which caused the chestnut forests to be abandoned and drove the population to find livelihood outside the region. Now there is a renewed interest in safeguarding the chestnut traditions. The chestnuts are eaten roasted, ground into flour, or consumed as the candied delicacy called marron glacé from the village of Marradi. In October you can enjoy the annual Chestnut Festival in Marradi.
#3 There’s an association in Mugello working to revitalize women’s traditional handicrafts.
In nearly every Italian home, you can find embroidered pillows and handmade lace objects that have been passed down from previous generations. But it’s no surprise that very few people are carrying on the tradition of Italian women’s handicrafts today. That’s why the cultural association, Sul Filo del Tempo (On the Edge of Time), in Barberino di Mugello is so important. The association aims to practice, promote and spread the culture and the art of embroidery, in addition to enhancing local traditions and rediscovering ancient embroidery skills. Visit their shop and purchase their handiwork as unique gifts and souvenirs!
#4 Brunelleschi loved Mugello’s Pietra Serena.
Pietra Serena literally translates as “peaceful stone”. The gray-blue stone found in the area of Mugello was used by none other than Brunelleschi, known for having figured out how to create the dome on top of Florence’s cathedral when no one else could. He was the first to use pietra serena to create frames, portals, arches and columns that adorned the city of Florence and quickly became adopted by other artisans, resulting in stone quarries that are still active today. To admire pietra serena celebrating delicious chestnuts at the same time, attend the annual “Dal Bosco e Dalla Pietra” (From the Forest and From the Stone) festival in October in the town of Firenzuola.