According to the legend, Valdarno's geological features inspired Dante Alighieri for his Divine Comedy. It is said that some parts in the description of Dante's Hell resemble the Valle dell'Inferno ('Hell Valley'). Well before the construction of the dam, this valley had very steep slopes through which the river Arno rushed.
Valdarno is also linked to Leonardo da Vinci, who studied and wrote about this territory. Perhaps he was mostly fascinated by the Balze, which he used as a backdrop to more than one painting, such as la Gioconda or Mona Lisa.