The Mugello is a huge valley closed in on the north by the Apennine mountains, on the south by the spur made up by Mount Giovi and Mount Senario which divide it from the valley of Florence, and on the west by Mount Calvana beyond which the city of Prato and its surroundings extend.
The most important towns of the Mugello are Barberino di Mugello, Scarperia e San Piero, Borgo San Lorenzo, Vicchio and Dicomano.
This valley was once extremely rich in game: deer, roe-deer, wild boar, hare, wild duck and geese; the many rivers and streams were well-stocked with barbell, roach, eel, trout and prawns. The Ligurian Magelli, the Etruscans and the Romans had settlements here, and later after the Dark Ages, the medieval families of the Guidi and the Ubaldini made their homes here.
After 1300 the Mugello passed a period of rapid development as a rural area of the Florentine Republic. A certain Morelli (1371-1444), native of this land, wrote this description of the beauties and the produce of the Mugello in his Chronicle of the Fourteenth Century (Cronaca Trecentesca):
On the plains of the Mugello are to be seen the best and most fruitful of orchards of the County, where the harvest is made twice or thrice a year, and always in abundance. And I learned that on the rich lands of these hillsides there is wheat, fodder, fruit, wine and oil in abundance, and also great quantities of wood and chestnuts and livestock enough to supply a third of Florence.
I learned that great quantities of cheese and lambswool and chickens come from the Mugello and that there are other fowl and game in great abundance.
The Medici family, and, in particular Lorenzo the Magnificent, have left many signs of their dominance in the Mugello, not only with their buildings (notably the VILLA OF CAFAGGIOLO at Barberino, the CASTLE OF THE TREBBIO at San Piero a Sieve, the PALACE OF THE VICARI at Scarperia) but their presence also remains visible in agriculture - the fields and the woods planted with their taste for geometric patterns, and the system of irrigation.
In the fifteenth century the Medici family, on their property situated at PANNA, established a cattle farm, breeding 'Swiss' cows (Alpine browns) to provide both for themselves and also to sell.
Today, after many centuries, the Mugello still maintains this tradition and many farms of this territory breed cattle, sheep and also horses:
much of the cow's milk produced here is distributed by the central dairy of Florence for the city's population. The uncontaminated nature of the environment where the milk is produced has allowed it to be given the denomination of Top Quality, and specifically MUKKI MUGELLO. The delicious yoghurt produced with this milk is sold under the name BIO MUKKI, the biological milk Podere Centrale is also produced;
sheep's milk, initially prepared by the shepherds, is then made into an excellent sheep's cheese at the diary;
beef is sold by a network of local butcher's. Its quality is guaranteed by the well-established Consorzio Carni Mugello.
The annual FIERA AGRICOLA MUGELLANA (Agricultural Fair of the Mugello), continues the tradition of the markets of the Mugello and gives us an overall view of the local agricultural activities with several important zootechnical exhibitions (the national, regional and provincial shows of the Limousine beef cattle and the Frisone milk cow) as well as expositions of other products and machinery.