Mugello Circuit in Italy
The wonderful Mugello Circuit, in Tuscany, Italy
Italy's love affair with bike racing is long and enduring. Manufacturers such as Mondial, Moto Guzzi, Gilera, MV Agusta, Morbidelli, Garelli, Cagiva and now Aprilia and Ducati all playing a role, in addition to great riders such as Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.
Located 30 kilometres north-east of Florence in the beautiful countryside of Tuscany, the first time that Mugello hosted a Grand Prix event was in the year 1976. The layout of the stunning Tuscan circuit, which undulates naturally within a beautiful tree lined valley, has remained practically the same ever since. Bought by Ferrari back in 1988, the 5.245 kilometres track has been renovated to a high standard and has a growing reputation as one of the world's most up-to-date, scenic and safest race circuits. It became a permanent MotoGP venue from 1991 onwards.
The Most Wins are by Valentino Rossi with 7 wins. Most Poles are by Valentino Rossi with 6 poles.
Let's look at the track in a bit more detail.
Mugello offers ample viewing areas for a particularly boisterous and partisan Italian crowd. Circuit Length 5.2 kilometres, Corners 6 left 9 right, Longest Straight 1141 metres.
The track has a blend of slow and fast turns with sweeping curves, long straights and off-camber corners which make Mugello one of the most challenging circuits for the riders and engineers.
Why we love Mugello and Tuscany
The territory known as Mugello is an area in northern Tuscany, a few kilometers north of Florence. The area of Mugello is a wide, green valley crossed in parts by the Sieve river, one of the major rivers that flow into the Arno river, Tuscany's principal river.
Mugello is marked off in the north by the Tuscan-Emilia Romagna Apennines, in the south by the Monte Giovi peak and by Monte Senario and Monte Calvano in the west.
Fascinating cities, stunning mountains and lakes, breathtaking coastline, great weather, excellent wine, amazing cuisine, thousands of years of history and classic architecture.
Mugello is located in the picturesque Tuscan region in central Italy, just north of Rome, and just a short drive from Florence - the cultural and historical hotspot. Pisa and Siena are also in Tuscany, and the locals in both cities would argue that their city is just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than Florence.
The north of Italy boasts beautiful mountains in regions bordering Austria, France and Switzerland and the large northern cities - Turin, Milan, Genoa, Bologna - are the economic and post-industrial powerhouses of the nation.
Meanwhile the south of Italy has its contrasting and rustic charm, with miles of unspoiled beaches and its own interesting cities such as Naples and Palermo.
Italy's capital city Rome was once the centre of an entire empire, and millions of tourists annually visit each year to see the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, in addition to St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel and the Trevi fountain.
Exploring Mugello and Tuscany
Travelling around the Tuscan countryside whether on foot, by bicycle, motorbike or car is delightful and a great experience. There are hundreds of miles to travel along, throughout the region, where you go through quaint little towns, vineyards, woodlands, hilltops and by valley streams.
Cities such as Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa and Lucca are all worth taking a day or more to discover and some of Italy's finest architectural, cultural and historical sights are there to be discovered.
Florence, the capital city of the Tuscan region, is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. Its historic city centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.
Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) - The leaning tower on the right, the Baptistery and Duomo in the background.
Pisa cathedral's leaning bell tower is world famous and must be seen by any visitor to Tuscany, but this beautiful Italian gem of a city has much more to take in too, with over 20 other churches, a number of medieval palaces and various historic bridges to be strolled across in the summer sunshine.
Trips into the countryside are a pleasure, but be aware, not all shops, cafes, restaurants take credit cards, most small towns do not have a cash machine!
Also in rural areas the restaurants may have more restricted dining hours than in the larger cities.
Let's explore some more
Not far away is the medieval city of Siena, the capital of the province of Siena, in the heart of Tuscany, Italy. It is a great example of a medieval town, with it's labyrinth of ancient streets and alleys flanked by Middle Age noble palaces of brick and tufa, marble churches and loggias enjoying the surprising variety of viewpoints of one of the most beautiful cities of Italy.
This city thrives due to tourism and has a lot to offer its visitors. The major sights to see within this city include the Piazza del Campo (Campo Square), which is the city's most famous and Medieval piazza. Known for its unique shell-shaped structure, it has also been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and this piazza is home to some very fine monuments and buildings.
Visit the Duomo, cathedral built from 1136 to 1384, one of the most spectacular in Italy and one of the few built in true gothic style south of the Alps. Then reach the Campo, Piazza del Campo, the town's main square, to see the Fonte Gaia fountain, the 1342 towering gothic palace and Mangia Tower, the home of St.Catherine and the Basilica where her head is exposed as a relic.
The fifteenth-century dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as Il Duomo di Firenze,
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, is famous for its massive dome - the largest in the world until 1881. There are 463 steps and some tight spaces, you can clamber up inside for a great view of the city from the lantern at the very top: the highest point in central Florence. The adjacent Giotto's Campanile, a bell tower, offers another spectacular view and a great perspective on the Duomo itself.
The original sculpture park, The terraced Boboli Gardens slope down behind the Pitti Palace, with great Tuscan panoramas everywhere you look. Once a lavish back garden for the Medicis, over the centuries it's evolved into a public park, full of Renaissance and classical sculptures, including the excellently named 'Boboli Obelisk' from Egypt. The park has hidden grottos, including the fairy tale-esque Grotta di Buontalenti.
The backstreets of Santa Croce, It's only a short trip west from the historic centre, but the working-class neighbourhood of Santa Croce seems a long way from the Duomo. Centred on the church where Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli are all buried, its quiet streets are full of good local restaurants, little shops and lots of nightlife. If you're not sure where to start, try the antiquarian stalls and food market in the Piazza Ghiberti.
Florence is full of beautiful streets. In the Fiesole hills just north of the city you'll find the beautiful Villa il Palmerino, which houses a cultural institution hosting lectures and concerts.
The picturesque Fiesole town
Feeling hungry? How about some Florentine Cuisine?
There are lots of excellent restaurants dotted about Mugello, Florence and all over Tuscany. Where you can dine in or out.
Some of the delicious local produce are the Chianti Classico or Brunello di Montalcino wine, be sure to get extra-virgin Italian olive oil and give the local pecorino cheeses and cured meats like the salame toscano a go.
Tuscan food is simple and abundant with local produce, mellow cheeses and grilled meats. Tuscans are also known for their appreciation of beans as seen in the staple of the Tuscan table: white beans cooked with sage and olive oil.
The recipes in Florentine cuisine range from the original and traditional to more recent arrivals and innovations. Such a wide and occasionally unusual choice of dishes has not only provided some fascinating historical and social information, but the assortment and variety of flavours, colours, customs and costs suited to all pockets, also offers a style of cooking which is lively and flexible. Florentine steaks of beef are roasted or wine-braised, game such as boar, deer and rabbit.
Beef Steak Florentine: Many versions of roasted or wine-braised game such as boar, deer and rabbit and thick and hearty soups cover the table of a typical Tuscan meal.
"Bistecca alla Fiorentina": The Tuscan steak, which comes from a special cow breed, the Chianina, is served very rare alongside roasted potatoes and beans.
Stracotto - Braised beef: The name of this recipe actually means "overcooked", which is a good description, as it is intended for the tougher, tasty cuts of meat which require long, slow cooking. Before the discovery of America and the importation of tomatoes, stracotto was cooked with agresto - a sauce made from crushed, tart grapes, boiled and flavoured with cloves, cinnamon and the juice of a squeezed onion.
Pollo alla fiorentina - Florentine chicken: A heavenly concoction of chicken breasts with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, spinach, onion, celery, cream cheese, paprika and garlic powder.
Casseruola alla fiorentina - or "Florentine Casserole": It is made with pasta or noodles covered with a creamy spinach and mushroom sauce, made with chicken breast and pieces of sausage or salami, seasoned with garlic, tarragon, marjoram and to top it off covered with an egg and ricotta mix. It is most flavoursome when served slightly cool and is ideal for lunch or evening dinner.
The region of Florence is famous for its wine
Stretching between Florence and Sienna and first established by Cosimo III de Medici, the Chianto Classico sub-region produces some of Italy's best red wines.
As the capital of Tuscany, Florence has remarkable wines, most notably the deep red wine Chianti Classico. You'll also find fine wines like the Brunello di Montalcino, Pomino Vin Santo and other trebiano white wines, and moscadello varieties for sweet wines.
There are wine festivals in Florence more often than in any European city, and during the summer they run almost every week! In addition, every restaurant and every cafe sell the best Florence wines.
Interesting to know
Tuscany is home to 3.8 million people but is visited by more than 40 million tourists each year.
Not surprising really, as you cannot help but be drawn to the natural beauty of the coastline, the Apennine Mountains, the olive groves, vineyards and the picturesque Tuscan cities and towns such as Florence, Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Elba and Livorno.
- Roland Potter