The sun is never as beautiful as it was on the day you left.
With this beautiful quote by Jean Giono, we start the journey through the Valmdambra, in the heart of Tuscany, through ravines and springs which run down the slopes of the Chianti mountains.
Our tour takes you through the countryside surrounding Bucine, scattered with fortifications, vineyards and centuries-old trees. In particular, exploring Montebenichi and its surroundings.
The route starts right next to the Parish Church of Santa Maria in Altaserra, built on a place known to exist since the Etruscan and the Roman eras, as proven by archaeological digs. The church’s current appearance is the result of several maintenance works over time, but its charm has not diminished. A few minutes later you will reach Montebenichi, the castle where the brave Captain Goro lived in the first half of the 16th century.
After a quick detour to the left to go visit the piazzetta where the small castle stands, continue along a panoramic dirt track, following the signs of the CAI 47, to get to a group of cypress trees which hide a chapel dedicated to St. Francis.
From there, you get to the famous Noccolo, Montebenichi’s large olive tree, the oldest living thing in the Valdambra. After that, at the end of a slope, there is a slippery and dangerous section which takes you to a large abandoned building, the mill of Macinaia.
Cross the Ambra stream over a concrete bridge and continue to the right; follow the flow of the water for about 3 kilometres, crossing it about 8 times. This is a perfect place for taking a break and freshening up (weather permitting).
After the final ford, climb up the only uphill road which leads us to the highest point of the walk: the little town of San Vincenti. A collection of stone houses guards the treasure, a 1000-year-old parish church of rare beauty, with a Romanesque façade and bell tower. San Vincenti and Santa Maria in Altaserra are two churches, placed one in front of the other, on the border between two dioceses – Arezzo and Siena.
The journey continues down a slope with panoramic views among woods, olive groves, vineyards and beautiful restored stone and brick houses.
Turn and go through Ambra, and a little further on you get to the Ambrella stream, its first tributary, then the road doubles back again. Go up the road on the left to return to Montebenichi.
After the Giusterna farmhouses, half-hidden by cypresses and pines, the path continues with a slight slope between two rows of olive trees, until you reach the castle of Montebenichi.
This tour is part of the guide book Il Diario del Viandante, by the municipality of Bucine. On the official website, you can find details about the routes, useful information and maps to download.