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Vaiano, find the real Italy!

A volunteer in the heart of Tuscany, where you never feel alone

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by Alexander Grigoriev

As an international group of volunteers we passed two amazing weeks in a charming community of Vaiano. Situated in a Val di Bisenzio (Province of Prato, in a few km from Florence), Vaiano doesn’t belong to the most well-known touristic destinations, but here one can experience a “real Italy”. Why? Let’s try to explain in three points!

Nature.

Vaiano is located right in the beautiful valley in the middle of two (!) protected natural areas, the mountain chains of Calvana and Monteferrato. We lived on the slope of Calvana and made a fantastic hiking to its top, Monte Maggiore. From Monte Maggiore one can see a marvelous panorama of Florence with its famous dome of Santa Maria del Fiore. Also here we met a herd of white cows which feed freely on the fields on top of the mountain. In the night the lights of the valley are amazing, not to mention the beautiful “natural illumination” of fireflies that gives feeling of being inside a fairy tale.

History.

We were lucky to live in a locality of Vaiano called Savignano, a medieval borgo that grown up on the antic Etruscan road. Our place of residence was also very special – Casa Bartolini, an authentic historical house where was born a famous Italian sculpture Lorenzo Bartolini. It makes part of association of Italian historical residences to which belong houses of Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli and Enrico Caruso. In a few minutes by walk from Savignano is situated a vineyard where loved to walk Galileo Galilei!

Hospitality.

The cordiality of local people is amazing! The family that hosted us in Casa Bartolini (also available as bed&breakfast) offered us a maximum of hospitality and made us feel ourselves not guests, but real family members. Another family, a big friend of Legambiente Prato, invited us for a dinner where we made a real Italian pizza in the oven! Our working days have matched with a local rock festival where we made friendship with a lot of very nice and exceptionally open people (even if most of us didn’t speak Italian, it wasn’t a problem!). In this small community you simply can’t feel yourself alone like it sometimes happens in big cities. It’s enough to go to Casa del popolo, the most popular local bar, to greet visitors and start a conversation.