The landscape is dotted with small villages that punctuate thriving farmland giving way at times to areas of still untouched wild vegetation. The rural scene regularly features magnificent country houses, the seasonal residences of aristocratic Pisan and Florentine families. Each has its own history and its own architecture, some of them age-old fortresses converted into homes, many housing a wealth of works of art, all unmistakeable relics of an agricultural system based on sharecropping that was, until fairly recently, prevalent in Valderaa. The gentlefolk’s houses were the focal point of that organic economic cycle and, surrounded by glorious parks, they communicate with the landscape that sets off their architecture. The farmhouses mark the boundaries between one estate and another. The country houses are distributed evenly throughout the Park, and choosing just a few examples is no easy task: from the magnificent San Marco residence, steeped in history, to the equally fine Villa Alessandri in Cedri; from the deligtful Villa Medici-Corsini in Spedaletto to the superb Villa di Monti, not to mention the Villa Gotti Lega in Capannoli. And how can we fail to mention the delightful house in Celli or the architecture of Usigliano, Collelungo, Villa Saletta, Pratello and Casanova? The many belfries that rear up out of the land, almost all of fine workmanship, mark the various settlements that made this a humanised landscape even in ancient times. Even now they hold many relics, of the middle ages in particular, in store for us: the layout of the towns, the narrow alleys branching off the main streets, the odd stretch of old cobble stones, the brickwork façades, the arches over old front doors in the town centres and so on. Picturesque villages, little clusters of houses in the country, complete the scene. The Chianni, Rivalto and Orciatico areas, where the hills almost turn into mountains, given their height, stand out among the characteristic hilly areas.
Alta Valdera, Capannoli Chianni, Peccioli, Terricciola