La Via degli Dei

Walking the Via degli Dei (the ‘Path of the Gods’), from San Piero a Sieve to Olmo

From Bologna to Florence, or vice versa. A path that crosses the Tuscan and Emilian Apennines, following ancient trade routes and traversing mountains named after ancestral divinities: Adonis, Jupiter, Venus, Luario (from Lua, the Roman goddess of expiation). And on its way, passing through villages and towns that are treasure troves of historical remains, amidst wild landscapes and rolling hills. It is a route that was already travelled by the Etruscans and Romans, and that in the Middle Ages was a passageway for merchants. For the most part it runs along what centuries later would be the Gothic Line and therefore it suffered the dramas of the Second World War. There are a number of great attractions along the route, in addition to the two cities of art: the Riserva Naturalistica del Contrafforte Pliocenico (a nature reserve), the ancient military via Flaminia, a road built in 187 B.C., Mugello with its Castello del Trebbio, the sanctuary of Monte Senario, where the monks will offer you the 'Gemma di abeto' liqueur, and then Fiesole, a jewel of a village close to Florence.

Via degli Dai, Sanctuary of Monte Senario

The route is approximately 130 km long, and can ideally be divided into five or six stages. Of course, fitter walkers can do it in less, even in 4 stages. But in reality, these routes are a eulogy to slowness and nature. The scents of the undergrowth, the rustling of the shrubs, the ascents and descents, the steady pace of footsteps on the ground, the tracks of animals. There are moments of introspection and then the smiles of the people you meet and with whom you can share a whole stage of the walk or just a section. Each at his own pace. And sometimes you might meet them again at your destination, and have more to share.

Another positive note: the freedom to choose how many and which stages to do. For example, For example, anyone passing by Barberino di Mugello with little time to spare can opt to walk from San Piero a Sieve to Olmo.

The Badia del Buonsollazzo

From San Piero a Sieve to Olmo

Before starting the walk, if time permits, it is worth taking a little less than ten minutes' drive north from San Piero a Sieve for a detour to the Bosco ai Frati convent: a chapel founded around the seventh century, then ceded to the Franciscans in 1212. In the 1420s, at the behest of Cosimo de' Medici, it was rebuilt by Michelozzo. The result: a singular fusion of new Renaissance taste and references to medieval architecture.

Now we set off. From the historic centre of San Piero a Sieve, a village that arose during the Middle Ages near the bridge over the Sieve river, rebuilt by the Florentines in 1372, and around the eleventh-century parish church of San Pietro. To start with, follow the signs for the Fortezza Medicea, then the CAI Bo-Fi signs. A diversion leads to the Medici Fortress of San Martino, which occupies an entire hill dominating San Piero a Sieve and much of Mugello. Cosimo I de' Medici had built it to defend the Medici possessions and local population.

Florence and Fiesole seen from Olmo

The legs get into their rhythm while the eyes are filled with incredible landscapes. We reach the Castello del Trebbio, built in the fifteenth century by Cosimo de' Medici as a country residence. A castle frequented by none other than Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giovanni dalle Bande Nere and Amerigo Vespucci.

Now the signs to follow, indicated with red and white stripes, are those of path CAI 17 Bo-Fi Bivigliano. The trail passes through the beautiful Mugello countryside, with views of green expanses dotted with hamlets.

We follow the track that leads through the woods. Here is the Badia del Buonsollazzo, now little more than a ruin, built before the year 1000 and rebuilt several times. From here the view of the entire Mugello and the Apennine ridge is incomparable.

Around the Trebbio

We continue on asphalt, but do not give up, because it is only a short distance to the Monastery of Monte Senario. We are just over 800 metres above sea level. Built in 1234 by seven Florentine nobles, founders of the Order of the Servants of Mary, and altered several times between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, the complex includes the large Hospice (1603), the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows (1412, renovated in the eighteenth century) and the monastery itself, with a small fifteenth-century cloister. Outside are the caves carved into the rock by the 'Holy Founders'. It’s the perfect spot for a short refreshment stop tasting a liqueur kindly offered by the friars.

The track running along the right side of the monastery, then the tree-lined avenue and a path that descends into the woods lead to Bivigliano, a village offering accommodation and shops. From here, one continues on an asphalted road to Vetta le Croci, where we again take to a path, leading to Olmo. We walk through cultivated fields with: in the distance, Fiesole and Florence already visible.


Distance from Barberino Designer Outlet to San Piero a Sieve: approximately 13 km. Travel time about 15 min.

Via degli Dei

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