Stretching between Florence and Arezzo, the Casentino valley is home to 36,000 hectares of lush forests surrounded by mountains, hamlets, castle ruins, ancient churches, and monasteries.
It is often said that Casentino represents a different kind of Tuscany, maybe its most poetic, inspiring side.
Being a hidden corner of Tuscany, it's the perfect non-touristry place where you can enjoy off-the-beaten-track walks and bike excursions that will lead you right to the heart of this Tuscan magical land.
Highlights of Casentino
Casentino Forest national park
The park is on the Apennine side of the valley. It features more than 370 miles of hiking paths winding through fairy-tale like forests of oaks, conifers, beech and chestnuts, where wildlife still thrives.
It offers breathtaking views throughout the whole year, but if you especially like to admire the thick and colorful foliage of the trees, we suggest that you visit it in autumn!
As for summer, Casentino is the perfect escape if you're looking for cool air and crystal-clear streams...
What's more, during this season you can take part in guided night walks through the forests looking for fireflies.
A place for spirituality
The area's natural features, high altitude, and remoteness made Casentino a favorite place for spiritual retreats.
Hermitages and monasteries have flourished in the area for centuries, and many of them are still there.
- Take the Monastery of Camaldoli, for instance, founded by Saint Romuald in 1012. At about 1000 meters a.s.l., the hikes around Camaldoli are spectacular, as well as the monks' hospitality. If you go there, take a look at the antica farmacia, the ancient pharmacy, which sells handmade soaps, sweets, herbal liqueurs and ancient remedies made with the local produce of the forest.
- La Verna Sanctuary is one of the most famous pilgrims' destinations in Italy. Saint Francis of Assisi was given the site by the local count in 1213, and it was here that he received the stigmata of Christ.
A place of history
The castles and the historic hamlets that dot the Casentino hills and mountains remind us of Medieval times, when the area reached its greatest splendor.
The history of Casentino is connected to the Guidi counts, who built castles not only in Poppi - their native town - but also in Romena, Porciano, Montemignaio, and San Niccolò.
A land of traditions
Authenticity is a must in Casentino.
It tresaures authentic flavors, that you'll find in simple, tasty dishes such as the local specialty, tortelli di patate - pasta stuffed with a spicy mashed potato mixture.
And ancient crafting traditions as well, such as Casentino wool, a typical, high-quality production of the area with a distinctive texture that makes it warmer and impermeable.
Its traditional colors, too, are unmistakable. Recently, some famous fashion designers (such as Cavalli, Gucci, and others) employed it in their collections.