History | San Godenzo - Il Castagno d’Andrea | Terre degli Uffizi
The ancient town of San Godenzo nestles in the mountains of the Upper Mugello on the border between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, at the foot of the Muraglione Pass and Mount Falterona astride the valleys of the Arno and the Sieve, immersed in the beech forests and chestnut groves of the Appenines.
The town owes its name to the ancient abbey built by Jacopo il Bavaro ("the Bavarian"), the Bishop of Fiesole, in 1028 to commemorate and to honour the site where the hermit St. Gaudentius used to withdraw and to pray in silence in the 6th century AD. The abbey was entrusted to Benedictine monks and is still the town's most important historical monument. It was in this abbey that Dante met with other Florentine exiles on 8 June 1302 to plan their return to Florence, an initiative which, in the event, never came to fruition.
The monks worked the vast forests stretching all around the young township, producing some of the future stocks of wood that were to supply the rest of Tuscany over the centuries. In addition to beeches, the area is also rich in splendid chestnut groves with centuries-old trees that have provided the local mountain folk with their basic source of nourishment since time immemorial.
It was in a hamlet called Castagno immersed in a chestnut grove that the painter Andrea, known as "del Castagno", was born in the early 15th century. Honouring the reputation that the painter earnt in the course of his artistic career, the village changed its name to Il Castagno d'Andrea in order to keep alive the memory of its illustrious son.
From the hamlet of Castagno d'Andrea you can access one of the entrances to the Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna established in 1993 and listed as a protected area by UNESCO in 2017 on account of the incalculable value of the ancient beech forests of Fratino and the biogenetic reserves of the Casentino.