Ronta (364 meters above sea level) is one of the most picturesque towns in Mugello. It is a small district of Borgo San Lorenzo. The Mugello valley, rich in tones and colors, assume in Ronta a ferrous color on the mountains, dark green in the woods, and reaches clearer tones in streams, fields and pale olive trees.
Ronta is in the cavity of the Apennines and is closed to the north by Mount Prefetto (960 meters), east of Mount Giuvigiana (973 meters). In the northwest facing itself all over Mugello. The country is wet by Elsa, or commonly called Ensa.
From Via Faentina to Mugello valley touches the hamlet of Panicaglia, then Ronta, to continue to the Madonna of the Three Rivers, and even further with Razzuolo. After a narrow throat, with narrow curves and winding on the mountainside, Faentina leads to the “Casa dell’Alpe”, then to reach the Colla di Casaglia.
Ronta, for the location along the Faentina, for the beauty of the landscape, and the variety of the environment, was always considered an important center and a sought after place of tranquility and rest. New buildings have not altered the country’s old flavor, old houses, and the sense of solemnity pervade the area. That Ronta, in ancient times was inhabited by the Etruscans, is easy to deduce from the same denomination. In fact, “Ronta” is nothing but a reduction of “Arrunta”, the plan of the Etruscan Arnta. Also during the restoration work of the old church, the oldest among the churches of Ronta, there were remnants of walls that had Etruscan features: squared blocks, irregularly and made dry.
Ronta was also conquered by the Romans, who probably built a fortress. This stood on the high hill where the church of S. Maria a Pulicciano is today. Tradition wants the Romans to erect, even in Mugello, numerous temples to their gods. At Borgo San Lorenzo, it was worshiped Bacco, Luco Diana and Ronta Marte. Afterwards, the Longobards settled in Mugello. A fraction of Ronta, the Villas, declares a colonial setting organized according to the Lombard law. After the Franks come. Let’s go to the discovery of the churches of Ronta, rich in history and charm.
As soon as they arrive in Ronta, coming from Borgo San Lorenzo, right at the beginning of the village, the gaze is attracted by a bell tower on the right. It is the chiesa “Vecchia”, one of the churches of Ronta. It is the primitive church of the country. Tradition wants to have a temple in honor of Mars. It is difficult to document both the presence of the Roman temple and the transformation of the temple into a Christian church.
Part of the filaretto (type of irregular masonry typical of medieval building), a small single-lancet window and a lintel have the appearance of romanity. All the centuries leave their footsteps on the building. The eighteenth-century restoration made a magnification of the church but choked under the plaster of the interesting aspects of the church. Originally it had to be much more fascinating. The base of the church was transformed into a Latin cross.
The primitive church was certainly smaller because Pulicciano was much more important in those times, and Ronta was almost a fraction of it.
The community of Ronta, and in particular Antonio De ‘Nerli, were very devoted to this church.
In September 1516 restorations were carried out. In addition to the enlargement of the presbytery, the main altar and bell tower were restored, placing on the top an iron cross with a flag on which there was the image of St. Michele. Subsequently restorations were made in the canonical and the cemetery was enlarged. During the Nerli Priory, in the people of Ronta, a devotion developed in honor of the Cross.
A woman of the people, Monna Antonia, kept in her humble house a beautiful crucifix. The latter, then donated to the church, became the center of faith, religious practice and the glory of the people.
Church of San Michele
During the 18th century the church of San Michele in Ronta, also known as Badia, was carried out. This is the latest churches of Ronta. The church was built on an ancient Chapel of the Vallombrosani. The work was propagated until 1716. In 1724 a new stone altar was built with marble ornaments. The chapel at the sacristy presents a devoted image of the Madonna, highly valued by the people. The Prior Benvenuto Buini, very fond of the country, decided to replace the ancient rosette with a bell window and the architrave on which he placed above his name and family coat of arms. Badia, which became the new parish house in 1785, was right in the middle of the people, easy access and was a dignified and functional building. To date we can admire the exterior plastered walls. Above the door, enclosed by a molded frame, there is a ruined coat of arms on which, however, one can still distinguish two swords and the monogram S.P. The interior, to a single nave, is very simple and covered with trusses. Above the transept you can admire two rib vaults.
Madonna dei Tre Fiumi
Madonna dei Tre Fiumi is a charming place and is located at the Farfereta Valley, originally called the Sorbo Valley. Among the churches of Ronta there is also a sanctuary. The latter is located right here and it is the only sanctuary of all Mugello. One day the place was not as it is today. Silence was interrupted by the murmur of torrents. Merchands, pilgrims, and shepherds often passed. There was also a mill. During a famine three young shepherds were graced by the Madonna. During their walk they saw a woman who encouraged them to go home to eat. They found the pantry full of bread. In memory of the grace of Madonna, a tabernacle was built that invited to stop and salute Maria.
In 1578 three women during the daily prayers to the tabernacle saw the Virgin’s face become flesh and her eyes filled with tears.
They decided to communicate to the inhabitants of the country this miraculous event. Just in those days, a Pulicciano child was about to die. His mother decided to bring the baby in front of the tabernacle and miraculously healed.
After several events, in July 1579, the prior decided to communicate these events to the Superiors. There was also a request to build an Oratory. The first stone was laid in August.
The oratory was completed in September 1581. In 1633 two aisles were added to the church and a refectory for pilgrims was built on the side. This expansion was not enough, so it was decided to build an inn.
The devotion of the Madonna of the Three Rivers also took place in Florence, so that for the feast of Pentecost the pilgrims traveled all Faentina, from Florence to the Madonna of the Three Rivers, while also staying in the various churches along the way.
In 1705, for generosity of Cristoforo Buini, numerous embellishments were made to the Oratory. At his expense the lateral altars (one dedicated to Our Lady and the other to S. Carlo Borromeo), the portals and the choir were rearranged.
The Oratory suffered other restorations in 1933 and in 1965 the fresco of the Virgin was restored to the ancient lines.
Ronta’s story would be incomplete if no rows of Pulicciano were dedicated. This place originates from “Publicius”. Here we find Roman remains, including a cistern located beneath the churchyard, visible through a crack in the wall. At rectangular plan, the walls are plastered in light yellow color, while the “donkey back” was rebuilt in the Middle Ages. Even at the cemetery there are traces of walls of a Roman era construction. On the hill the Romans built a “Castrum”, and according to tradition Countess Matilde founded a defense site across the Mugello valley.
Over the years the castle passed into the hands of the Ubaldini. Having become the possession of the Florentine Republic, Pulicciano became a theater of bloody battles. In the lunette on the church portal, one can see the reproduction of the ancient castle. When the domain of Romagna passed to the Medici, the fortifications on the part of the Apennine were destroyed, including Pulicciano. Witness to the ancient glories, the church dedicated to Madonna remained.
Among the churches of Ronta, that of Pulicciano, with its façade and singular bell tower, can be admired by almost all of Mugello. It is one of the most picturesque spots in the area and climbing the hill and watching the Mugello Valley is a beautiful sight. It is almost impossible to define its foundation date. It probably rises as the chapel of the ancient castle, in fact its first name was “Santa Maria in Castello”. It was restored in 1640 and in 1897 it was raised and completely transformed. The prize who commissioned these restorations decided to put the coat of arms of his family on the lunar backdrop, harmonizing it with the Savoyard. Over the years the interior of the church has been enriched with fine paintings.
Here we conclude the path of the churches of Ronta.