Let’s start our itinerary from Santa Croce sull’Arno, located at the border between Pisa and Florence. The area of Santa Croce is famous for the production of leather that has been manufactured here since the 18th century and that counts more than 500 small factories working within the so-called leather district.
Also Fucecchio is part of this leather district, and is renowned for the production of leather shoes and bags. It is the first (or last) town of the Florentine metropolitan area that lies in between the Arno river and the Via Francigena. In the city center don’t miss Piazza Veneto with its Palazzo Corsini and the Civic Museum where you can see the large fresco of San Cristoforo crossing the Arno dating back to 16th century.
The name of Fucecchio is often associated to the beautiful area of the marsh, the Padule di Fucecchio in Italian. This is the largest inland marsh in Italy, where you can do bird watching to see starks, herons and cranes, and has been protected and used since the Renaissance when the Medici family built the large and beautiful bridge of Cappiano as we see it today. The area is famous for the handmade production of chairs and other objects using aquatic plants.
Following the Arno river, our next stop is Empoli, unexpected gem of Tuscany. The city center is full of shops and restaurants and has its core in Piazza Farinata degli Uberti overlooked by nice buildings with loggias, like Palazzo Ghibellino hosting the Museum of Paleontology, and the green and white marble facade of the Collegiata di Sant’Andrea. Not to be missed a visit to the Sacred Art Museum of the Collegiata di Sant’Andrea to admire frescoes by Masolino and paintings by Lorenzo Monaco and Filippo Lippi, and the Glass Museum located in the former storehouse for the salt coming from Volterra.
As a matter of fact Empoli is famous for the production of glass since the 15th century, but it was during the 20th century that the green glass of Empoli became a product of excellence known worldwide. The green color is unique, and is given by the concentration of iron oxide in the sand used. The green glass produced in Empoli was first used to produce traditional wine bottles, flasks and jugs to create innovative and fancy tableware, that are still manufactured in the area
Empoli is also famous for being the birthplace of Renaissance artist Pontormo, who was actually born in the village of Pontorme; there you visit the House of Pontormo where he was born as Jacopo Carucci in 1494.