On the axis that joins Volterra and Pisa, perched atop the summit of the Tuscan hills, one cannot mistake the silhouette of the bell-tower of the San Verano Church. It stands out like the steeple at the peak of a dome, where the village stands as its stone cathedral, the steep alleyways its buttresses. Peccioli leads down into the valley below that calmly shines a golden yellow and an emerald green.
We walk, among the narrow little streets of the village, until we face the Via del Giardino, a terrace with breath-taking views. From here we continue along the white pavement, skirting the crags of tuff to eventually reach Fabbrica. The olive groves frame the hilly landscape, and we just catch a glimpse of the austere stone façade of the Santa Maria Assunta church, timidly hiding behind a line of cypress trees, a wonderful example of 12th century Romanic architecture that hosts the suggestive Last Supper by Paolo Guidotti.
We climb up the Via di Montelopio again, and then up the Via di Cedri. Our path is surrounded by the green of olive trees, casting a pungent aroma, an epiphany to the full-bodied flavour of good oil. Between the canopies several deer appear, frightened yet curious. We continue along the Via della Bonifica and further through wheat and oat fields, scattered with fragrant broom bushes, until the pavement of the Via Santa Maria. We have arrived in Ghizzano.
From here, we move in the Castelfalfi direction, until the chalky hill of Colle Mustarola. Along one of the now peripheral roads, but which once was an important axis between Valdera and Roma, there once lay the small church of Santa Mustiola. Of this little 12th century church only a few broken ruins remain. Inside, a medieval grave was uncovered in 2016, which for six whole centuries held intact a priceless treasure: the mystery of Isadora, the young girl that was buried here. All that remains of her is a bronze ring, a headpiece adorned with pearls, and a precious, beautifully decorated bronzed belt. Who she was remains a mystery.
We continue our walk until Libbiano: here we stop to watch the stars from the telescopes of the Galilei Astronomical Centre, from which in 2006 was discovered an asteroid that now takes Peccioli’s name. We walk along a gravel road submerged in green. Next to us lies the usual landscape of hills, by now an accomplice in our journey. Between the hillocks, the wind turbines stick out with their calm and incessant movement. We arrive to Legoli, in front Benozzo Gozzoli’s monumental tabernacle frescoed between 1479 and 1480 and stored in the Santa Caterina Chapel.
And on these sweet hills our journey comes to an end. We will for long preserve the memory of the beauty of these places, that reveal themselves to those still capable of surprise when faced with a panorama.
To those capable of being moved, suspended between heaven and earth.