The unknown Tuscany - The Casentino
The Casentino in the upper Arno valley is a land of castles, Romanesque churches in the style of Della Robbia terracottas and Dantesque, spiritual villages. It is a green oasis in the Apennine Mountains in Western Tuscany between Florence and Arezzo, known for traditional crafts such as woodworking, blacksmithing, stone processing and processing of the famous “Casentino” – wool fabrics. The area is full of scenic charm and a harmonious coexistence between nature and people. The Casentino is one of the most beautiful and diverse valleys in Tuscany.
Its marked boundaries from the mountain ranges of Mount Falterona, Pratomagno and Alpe di Catenaia, make it similar to a vast amphitheatre. In the center flows the Arno River, which goes through the valley to the plain of Arezzo, where it resumes its run in the direction of Florence. The Casentino – Valley covers a total of about 700 square kilometers with a population of 35,000 inhabitants. It is divided from north to south in the following municipalities: Poppi, Bibbiena, Castel San Niccolò, Talla, Subbiano, Pratovecchio-Stia, Capolona, Montemignaio, Chiusi della Verna, Ortignano Raggiolo, Chitignano, Castel Focognano.
Relaxation and rest far away from overcrowded tourist areas is what the area stands for. For leisure, the Casentino offers many different options like golf, tennis, horseback riding, bowling, swimming, and Italian language courses.
Especially during the summer there are a lot of village festivals taking place around the area, which invite you to come a long and sample some of the local food. Moreover, nature offers many opportunities to go walking, swimming or just relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere.
There is a lot to discover on cultural short trips in this historic area as the valley and its heritage goes back to Etruscan times. Besides the many well preserved historical buildings, such as the castle of Poppi, one of the best preserved in the whole of Tuscany, the famous monastery of La Verna is located here, where Saint Francis of Assisi used to live and where he received the stigmata during long prayers. Several other famous monasteries such as the Hermitage Camaldoli are also located in or in close proximity to the National Park of Casentino. Every village, no matter how small the place, is a discovery in itself and gives the visitor the flair of life from hundreds of years ago.
Even Dante Alleghieri could not help himself but admire this fantastic region, and for that often the place of fierce battles, in the heart of Tuscany in his verse. Arezzo, and Florence are easily accessible from the Casentino and the cultural offerings of these two cities speak for themselves.Italy’s largest monthly antiques fair, which takes place every first weekend in Arezzo is also worth mentioning. Dealers from all over Italy offer their precious goods along the streets throughout the city center and add to the historic atmosphere of this beautiful place. One must see event is the Saracino, which takes place twice a year during the summer. The Saracino is a Knight’s tournament staged in original historical costumes. The whole place is filled with history during this celebration and not only all of the town participates as a lively crowd, but people of the entire surrounding area fill the streets of Arezzo on this historic occasion. It is an event you should not miss on your holiday in the Casentino.
In this environment without the stress of mass tourism, you can really get to know the country and its people and all of this in a relaxed atmosphere. On top of that you can take pleasant walks through the various towns and villages of Tuscany.
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