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The Valdarno: a thousand beauties between Arezzo and Florence

Valdarno, a fascinating stretch of Tuscany located between Arezzo and Florence, is a valley rich in history, art and nature. Worth exploring are the Castle of Sammezzano, with its unique Moorish-Eastern style, the Abbey of Vallombrosa surrounded by lush nature, the Bandella Nature Reserve for lovers of biodiversity, and historic villages such as San Giovanni Valdarno and Loro Ciuffenna. This valley offers a journey through time, from prehistory to the Renaissance, demonstrating the cultural and natural richness of the Tuscan territory.
valdarno

The Valdarno, located between Arezzo and Florence is a picturesque part of beautiful Tuscany. . Indeed, this valley, nestled between the mountains of the Pratomagno and the hills of the Chianti, is home to ancient villages and spectacular views. Read on to reveal some must-sees in Valdarno!

The Castle of Sammezzano

Located just thirty kilometers from Florence, you may have never heard of the Castle of Sammezzano, but we are excited to introduce you to its majestic beauty. This structure, tucked away in the characteristic Tuscan countryside, is unique in the region for its Moorish-Eastern architectural style. Inside, the vivid frescoes evoke atmospheres from A Thousand and One Nights, while externally the Castle is embraced by a park of more than 60 hectares. Although it dates back to 1605, the castle took its present form through alterations made by the Panciatichi Ximes d’Aragona family between 1843 and 1889.

When you can visit the Castle

Despite being a private property, the Castle opens its doors only during the FAI Days in Spring, while the park remains accessible at all times. The community sees this place as a jewel to be enhanced and recognizes its unique importance in Tuscany. The need to promote and protect this priceless architectural and cultural heritage is strongly felt by all those who understand its value.

Vallombrosa and the Benedictine Abbey

Speaking of Vallombrosa the name is enough to let us know what kind of place we are talking about . In fact, for those who want to immerse themselves in nature and find refreshment, especially in summer, it is the ideal destination. The trees of Vallombrosa are arranged as if in an artistic canvas or film scene of the highest order. In the heart of such a landscape, the Abbey of San Giovanni Gualberto emerges from Nature like a fairy-tale castle. Constantly visited by pilgrims and tourists, this abbey exudes an unparalleled charm. In an atmosphere of peace and serenity, there is a museum inside that preserves artifacts from the Middle Ages to the modern period.

Another experience at Vallombrosa is a path that will lead you through several small chapels arranged in the forest, designed as a physical and spiritual journey. As you explore these woods, you will feel as if you can encounter magical creatures and gnomes at every turn, an experience that will be truly unforgettable.

The Bandella Nature Reserve

Speaking of natural treasures, it is a must to mention the Bandella Nature Reserve, an oasis of biodiversity located along a picturesque stretch of the Arno River. In this area you can explore several enchanting routes and paths : on foot, by bike or, for enthusiasts, on horseback. During spring and summer you can enjoy a unique experience by sailing the Arno through the Reserve on a romantic boat trip.

San Giovanni Valdarno

After exploring some of the natural beauty of Valdarno it is time to immerse yourself in its charming villages. San Giovanni Valdarno, at this point, emerges as the most distinctive jewel of the Upper Valdarno. This village stands out for its urban design, meticulously planned by Arnolfo di Cambio, which preserves its original structure. In the heart of the village, stands the Palazzo d’Arnolfo, a tribute to the famous architect. You can’t miss a visit to the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie and the attached museum. Not enough for you? On Corso Italia, number 83, is the birthplace of San Giovanni’s most eminent citizen: Masaccio.

Loro Ciuffenna

Loro Ciuffenna boasts a place among the Beautifulest Villages in Italy and it is not hard to see why. With its stone houses rising along the Ciuffenna stream, on the slopes of the Pratomagno, it offers enchanting scenery. One of its wonders is the oldest watermill in the region, among the first in Italy, surprisingly still operating. Another must-see in Loro Ciuffenna is themuseum Venturino Venturi.

Il Borro: excellence of Valdarno

In 1993 the Ferragamo family purchased Il Borro, at the time a hamlet left in a state of complete abandonment . Today this ancient hamlet is a flagship of Tuscan tourism. It offers three prestigious restaurants and a winery open for visits, where selected tastings of excellent local wines can be enjoyed.

The Tower of Galatrona

About 500 meters above the territory of the municipality of Bucine the Torre di Galatrona offers us a splendid view of the Chianti and the entire Valdarno. On clear days we can even catch a glimpse of the summit ofMount Abetone. This tower welcomes visitors on weekends from the months of April through October. Outside these periods, guided tours for groups can be arranged by reservation.

Montevarchi and its treasures

Montevarchi boasts a historic center that is small but full of wonders. One of thethings to see in Montevarchi is definitely the Palazzo del Podestà, the current home of the City Council. Located in the bustling Piazza Varchi, in medieval times the palace was the residence of the local podestà. It is also essential to mention the Collegiate Church of San Lorenzo, dominating the same square and the town’s main place of worship. Exploring its interior is a fascinating experience, if only for its naves adorned with frescoes dedicated to St. Lawrence. The high altar then, dated 1706, features an impressive marble group of angels supporting the Madonna and Child. Although originally the work of Giovanni Baratta, the altar received interventions and refinements in the centuries to come.

The Paleontological Museum of Montevarchi: the prehistoric Valdarno

Let us now delve into one of the most interesting attractions of the place: The Paleontological Museum of Montevarchi, based in the old Franciscan convent of San Lodovico. After a long restoration that lasted seven years, this extraordinary structure has today reopened its doors to enthusiastic visitors. Inside, the Paleontological Museum holds over3,000 prehistoric artifacts. Most of these finds, plant and animal fossils, come from the Upper Valdarno. Prominent among the exhibits is an impressive Elephas Meridionalis, a prehistoric elephant that disappeared more than a million years ago, which could stretch up to four meters and weigh more than 200 quintals. Another remarkable exhibit is a Sabbit-Toothed Tiger, known as Machairodus Meganteron.

The museum welcomes visitors Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 5:30 p.m.

We cannot overlook another keymuseum to see in Montevarchi : theMuseum of Sacred Art. This one, located near the Collegiate Church of San Lorenzo, houses a precious little temple by Andrea della Robbia in glazed terracotta.

Figline Valdarno

The small town of Figline Valdarno is second only to its capital as the most popular destination in the province of Florence . Attractions here are numerous. One of the main things to see in Figline Valdarno is the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria inSquare Marsilio Ficino. Inside you can discover a Madonna con Bambino tra Angeli e Santi by the Maestro Da Figline. Also on display in the same church is a panel painting from 1539 depictingSt. Romulus giving the Madonna a tray holding the entire Castle of Figline.

Piazza Marsilio Ficino is also home to the characteristicSerristori Loggias, the last vestiges of a hospital erected by the Serristori family in 1399. Be sure to explore thePalazzo Pretorio, the Garibaldi Theater and the historic Medieval Walls-it will be an unforgettable experience!

From the heart of Arezzo, you will discover these wonders of Valdarno and so much more!

The Valdarno has so much to offer and it would be reductive to recount it all in one article. Keep browsing through our guides to learn more and organize your own itinerary! At Antiche Mura we are ready to guide you in your exploration , offering an ideal base in the heart of Arezzo’s historic center.

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