Near Prato west of Florence is the town of Calenzano. While a modern city sprawls along the valley, the old town of Calenzano Alto is a perfectly preserved Medieval village. It retains the allure of its magical streets overflowing with plants, piazzas, and heavy stone buildings that glow in the sunlight. The fortified village still has a well-kept castle, complete with crenellated top, a watch tower and a protective wall surrounding it. Calenzano Alto is a lovely place to wander and admire the views of the rolling hills and the peaceful countryside dotted with olives and spiked with tall cypress trees.
There are several nature parks in the area, including the delightful Bontanical garden of Quercia Mencola, which features an orchid trail. In the hills is a barn that has been turned into the Museum of the Resistance. A key battle took place here and this became a regional symbol of the resistance movement.
Calenzano is noted for its high quality olive oil. There are shops, coffee bars and restaurants in town to taste the local dishes.
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Explore nearby towns
Sitting between Florence and Prato is the ancient city of Sesto Fiorentino.
Prato, first Italian textile centre for exports, lies at the foot of Mount della Retaia, at the outlet of River Bisenzio, roughly half-way between Florence and Pistoia.
Vaglia remains a picturesque hamlet on the outskirts of Florence, where the Fiesole hills give way to the mountains of the Mugello.