○ 1200 AD : THE ROAD TO FLORENCE
§ On the origins of the Futa Road §
"In every part of the world there are roads that people have used for hundreds or even thousands of years, and then they are abandoned. The two most common reasons why this can happen are either because the territories or cities are no longer economically viable, or because faster and safer roads have replaced the previous ones. So those once thriving cities or towns along the route are reduced to heaps of ruins or end up as remote villages and the roads that lead there wither only to become a vague memory.
There are also roads that have never been abandoned, even where faster and more cost-effective alternatives are built.
Amongts the latter stands a mountain route between Bologna and Florence, quoted in today's tourist guides as Futa Road and on road maps as provincial road SP65. It is extremely varied and fascinating in terms of the landscape and its history; for these aspects alone it retains an almost mythical aura to the collective memory .
I want to take you on a journey through this road, step by step, with the certainty that this will fill you with emotions, because this road has witnessed great historical events and people and why here, in little towns and idyllic villages of stone consumed by time, the "little stories" of common people, without legends, family memories and memories of a simpler way of life fortunately have not died».
Adapted from "La Strada della Futa"
© 2013 Giordano Berti
FROM BOLOGNA ALONG THE VIA TOSCANA
The so-called Via di Toscana owes its name, which was attributed from the 13th century, to the fact that it was the official road to Florence. It was also referred to as the Via Romea which means it was also connected with Rome.
This road starts from Bologna’s Porta Ravegnana cross-roads and runs past the Abbazia di Santo Stefano which has housed a Hospital for travellers since the 11th century.
The next stop, the Chiesa di San Ruffillo, was extended with a Hospital for pilgrims in 1143 while the Monastery of San Bartolomeo di Musiano is even older as it was founded in 981 by the family of the Counts of Bologna. It is possible to visit this church which has been restored on various occasions; the well is the only part of the cloister that remains.
The Via di Toscana, with its many artistic and religious treasures, continues past Carteria di Sesto, the Chiesetta di Santa Maria di Meleto di Sesto which dates back to 1116 and which in the second half of the 14th century was a welcome shelter for travellers. Although the church has been restored we can still admire the original Romanesque architecture.
The next stage leads to Pianoro which - at least in 1094 - had a Hospital which used to offer accommodation to travellers making their way along this mountainous stretch of road. Another important stop for pilgrims was the Pieve di San Pietro di Barbarolo, which was mentioned as early as 1034.
In the Middle Ages the town of Loiano, the name of which “fundus Lollianus” meant it was the rustic property of a Roman landowner, found itself hemmed in between the Barbarians of Barbarolo and the Goths of “Mons Gothorum”, today’s Monghidoro. In the Middle Ages this town’s Pieve di Santa Maria was an important stop for travellers before reaching the Raticosa Pass and crossing the border into Tuscany.
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