Itinerary: Pontassieve, Londa, Stia, Pratovecchio, Poppi, Camaldoli, Botanical Garden of Valbonella
Scenic drive road in Tuscany along the Casentino Valley
The Casentino Valley tour is a short trip that starts and ends in Florence and will allow you to enjoy the natural beauty of the valley and visit some small charming art cities in this area.
Casentino Valley is a Medieval land rich in art, history, and culture, located not very far from Florence. The valley begins immediately after passing Alpe di Catenaia, a small mountain range that separates Casentino Valley from Tiber Valley. In the valley, you will be surrounded by a wonderful landscape made of picturesque villages, ancient monasteries clinging to the top of the hills, hermitages sunk in the green, austere castles, and lush forests. Everywhere, there is only peace and silence.
Here, on the tops of the Tuscany hills, at the border of the Emilia Romagna region, you will find many architectural jewels that, thanks to the skillful hands and care of the peasants, are fully integrated with the territory. Walking through these inspiring landscapes, you will be induced to meditation and self-reflection in a process of slow re-education to silence. You will experience that inner peace you have not enjoyed for a long period of time.
During this scenic drive tour in Tuscany, you will have the opportunity to visit:
- Porciano, an ancient village and its majestic Medieval Castle of Porciano with beautiful views (pic n°1),
- the outstanding Romanesque style Chapel of San Pietro di Romena (pic n°2). This National Monument is located a couple of kilometers from Pratovecchio at the foot of the Castle of Romena.
- Castle of Romena (pic n°3), is an 11th-century monumental fortress that stands on a hill 626 meters high
- Poppi (pic n°4), a Medieval hamlet, a real architectural pearl located at the top of a hill. Its thirteenth-century castle (pic n°5) dominates the entire town and on most of the Casentino area.
- and the famous, 11th-century Monastery and Hermitage in Camaldoli (pic n°6), founded by St. Remould. Here, you will enjoy some interesting artworks from Giorgio Vasari. The Hermitage is located about 3 kilometers from the Monastery inside the forest in a lonely position at an altitude of 1,100 meters.
Do not miss the natural beauties in the National Park of Casentino Forests, rich in beech, oak, and maple trees, one of the most important parks in Europe!
Inside the park, there is the Botanical Garden of Valbonella with old trees, rare and protected species, and a nice waterfall. It is located at an altitude of 700 meters a.s.l. You should absolutely visit this beautiful garden: there are 3 kinds of paths you can follow: the forest path, the stream path, and the open spaces path.
During the tour just stop in some local restaurants in order to taste the local cuisine which is one of the best in Italy. Tuscany and Emilia Romagna are two well-known regions thanks to their high-quality food as well.
Pappardelle (a kind of pasta), Tortelli (dumplings stuffed with meat, ham or ricotta, and spinach), Arista (baked pork), Lasagne, braised or roasted boar, roasted veal filet and cow steaks (ask for "Chianina" and "Bistecca alla Fiorentina"!) are only some of the delicious specialties from this area that you can taste in any restaurants along your way. A real special dish from Tuscany is Ribollita, a soup made of vegetables, beans, and cabbage leaves.
Length of tour: 215 km
Some pictures along the Casentino Valley Tour:
Castle of Porciano (pic n°1); Chapel of San Pietro di Romena (pic n°2); Castle of Romena (pic n°3); Poppi (pic n°4); Castle of Poppi (pic n°5); Monastery and Hermitage in Camaldoli (pic n°6);