CASTIGLION FIORENTINO | TUSCANY
Castiglion Fiorentino is a small, walled city in eastern Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Arezzo, between the cities of Arezzo and Cortona. It is well known for its annual festivals and Etruscan archeological site. Castiglion Fiorentino lies at the centre of a triangle formed by the cities of Florence, Siena and Perugia. Situated on a hilltop, 400 meters above sea level, the town overlooks the Val di Chio and the Preappenines. Slightly more than 13,000 people live in the city (2013). The village of Manciano, known locally as "Misericordia", lies a mile to the west.
HISTORY OF CASTIGLION FIORENTINO
Due to the overall infrastructure, town walls, and building architecture, for many years scholars considered the town to have been established in the late medieval time frame. More recent excavations, however, have found the remains of an Etruscan city wall (c. 4th century BC) underneath the current Piazzale del Cassero, and have discovered the remains of an Etruscan temple under one of the town's churches, la chiesa di Sant'Angelo, which was built in the twelfth century. Documents from the 10th century mention a town named "Castiglione" in the feudal property of the Marquis of Monte Santa Maria. During the following century, the town became a part of the Diocese of Arezzo. From the 12th century the town was a free commune, until 1289 when, in the wake of the battle of Campaldino, it became part of the Republic of Florence. Arezzo and Siena joined forces against the Florentines in later years and reconquered Castiglione Aretino (as it was known then), which was then fortified under the direction of Bishop Guido Tarlati, Lord of Arezzo. Following Tarlati's death in 1336, Florence again gained control of Castiglione, until 1344, when it was acquired by Perugia, and renamed Castiglione Perugino. In 1369 the townspeople revolted against the Perugians, giving themselves to the Papal States; by 1384 the Florentines seized the town and bestowed its current name, Castiglione Fiorentino. During the 15th century, Castiglion Fiorentino suffered from repeated outbreaks of the plague, blamed at the time on the marshy areas surrounding the city. At the dawn of the 16th century, the Sienese army, led by Pietro Strozzi, gained control of the area, holding Castiglion Fiorentino until 1654, when the area became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. For the next two hundred years, the Medici Grand Dukes ruled the city, until in 1765 the House of Lorraine gained power. The new dynasty encouraged the reclamation of marshlands, leading to a period of economic and population growth for Castiglion Fiorentino. From 1800 to 1814, the town was garrisoned by Napoleon's troops. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the town was returned to Tuscany, to which it remained until 1861, when the Grand Duchy was annexed to the newly created Kingdom of Italy. Military activity during World War II damaged part of the town center as well as much of the surrounding countryside.
WHAT TO SEE IN CASTIGLION FIORENTINO
The first of the existing city walls, including Porta Fiorentina, the main entrance to the town's historical center, was erected in the 13th century, then enlarged in the 14th under the Perugians to connect the castle to the outside walls. An anti-gate containing the Medici coat of arms is located outside of the walls, while the inside of the gate is constructed of three arches under a statue of the town's patron saint, St. Michael. The town's fortress, the Cassero, was completed in 1367. In the 15th century, the nuns of San Girolamo used the fortress as a convent, and by the 19th century much of the fortress had been destroyed, with the remaining structure used as a prison. The Pinacoteca, or Municipal Art Gallery, occupies the former church of Sant'Angelo. Built on the site of an Etruscan temple, the church of Sant'Angelo was built in Romanesque style between 1229 and 1239. The church has served as a hospital, wine cellar, and workshop before being renovated and used as an official museum and art gallery. In 1513 Vasari constructed a nine arch loggia (Logge del Vasari) in Piazza del Comune, overlooking the valley. The Logge were restored once between 1560 and 1570 and then again in the first part of the 20th century. Nearby is the Castello di Montecchio, which once was given to the British mercenary John Hawkwood.
CORTONA | TUSCANY
Cortona is an attractive place to spend a day or two with great art, great atmosphere, stupendous views to Lake Trasimeno and the Val di Chiana. Cortona is a small but fascinating city in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany, central Italy, situated on a commanding hill, and overlooking Lake Trasimeno. Its cyclopean walls reveal its Etruscan origins. It was one of the twelve cities of Etruria and in its vicinity many Etruscan ruins and tombs may be seen. Cortona sided against Rome until 310 B.C. when Fabius Rullianus defeated the Etruscans and took Perugia. Perugia, with other cities, including Cortona, then made peace with Rome. Later Cortona was destroyed by the Lombards but was soon rebuilt. In the 14 C, it was governed by the Casali and afterwards became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Many famous men were born or lived in Cortona, among them Brother Elias (Elia Coppi), the famous companion of St. Francis of Assisi, and later Vicar-General of the Franciscan Order; Cardinals Egidio Boni and Silvio Passerini; the painter Luca Signorelli; the architect and painter Pietro Berrettini (Pietro da Cortona). St. Margaret of Cortona (1248-97) was born at Laviano (Alviano) in the Diocese of Chiusi, and became the mistress of a nobleman of the vicinity. On discovering his body after he had met a violent death, she repented and, after a public penance, retired to Cortona, where she took the habit of a Tertiary of St. Francis and devoted her life to works of penance and charity. Leo X permitted her veneration at Cortona, and Urban VIII extended the privilege to the Franciscan Order. Benedict XIII canonised her in 1728. Her body rests in a beautiful sarcophagus in the church dedicated to her at Cortona.
The town is not at the top of a mountain, but about half way up, with views of the surrounding landscape below. Unlike many hill towns, Cortona is worth visiting for its art alone. The Museo Diocesano has a small but interesting collection including powerful works by Signorelli and Fra Angelico. The Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca, housed in a former palace, has an eclectic collection of paintings, Etruscan artifacts and jewelry, and Egyptian mummies.
GETTING TO CORTONA
Cortona may be accessed by rail: the closest station is Camucia-Cortona, about 10 km away, at the bottom of the hill. There are direct trains from Florence, Rome, and Foligno (by way of Perugia).
Cortona's helpful TI (tourist information office) is at Via Nazionale 42 (open daily March-Oct 9:00-13:00 & 15:00-19:00, tel. 0575-630-352).
There are lots of cafés for lunch, or assemble a picnic and dine al fresco. Cortona's San Marco hostel, housed in a remodeled 13th century palace, is one of Italy's best (Via Maffei 57, tel 0575-601-392.
FOIANO DI CHIANA | TUSCANY
Foiano di Chiana is located in the Arezzo Province of the Tuscany Region, and is a small farm community in the Val di Chiana. Foiano's name, according to a legend, derives from the god Janus who, when he went up the Tiber River and settled in the shadow of a hill, called it Flos Janus. Also, a parchment dating back to 842 CE was found in which Lothar I mentions the Roman Campus Fugianus. In 1383, control of Foiano passed from Arezzo to Florence and the inhabitants built fortified walls around the town. In 1387 the city became a free commune and the first communal statute was drafted. After the siege of the Aragonese, Foiano fell back into Florentine control and the new "heart shaped" town walls were built in 1480. Foiano was the best defense point in the Valdichiana because it used to be surrounded on three sides by marshland. In order to access the town, the inhabitants and visitors would have to arrive by boat where it was marshy, otherwise by land into the town. The marshland existed where the Chiana river now flows. The Castle of Foiano was built on the southern side of the city and changed hands many times according to who ruled the land. Leonardo da Vinci arrived in Foiano in 1502 and began to draw up plans for the draining of the Valdichiana and also the famous map of Valdichiana. In 1525, Foiano was the first commune to give up its marshlands to the Medici for draining. It took three centuries to drain the Val di Chiana, continuing during the Lorena rule. Only when, with the fall of Siena in 1554, all the territory passed under the dominion of the Medici, a coordinated and complete plan of reclamation could be prepared. Figures like Leonardo da Vinci, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Baldassarre Peruzzi and Vignola were involved in the work. In 1789, Napoleon’s troops came through Tuscany, but the French Revolution had no influence on Foiano, which enjoyed their pre-existing protection under Florence. In 1862, Foiano took on the name Foiano della Chiana and it was one of the first municipalities to elect a town council by popular majority.
WHAT TO SEE IN FOIANO DI CHIANA
Inside the walled city, there are art and architectural works by Andrea della Robbia and other notable artists of the Renaissance. Inside the church of San Michele Arcangelo, on the second south altar, a Madonna of the Rosary by Lorenzo Lippi and on the third north altar, and enameled terracotta of the Ascension by della Robbia and son Giovanni around 1495–1500. The Corso Vittorio Emanuele leads to the Piazza della Collegiata where, inside the Collegiata itself, is the Madonna della Cintola done in 1502 by Andrea della Robbia, and Coronation of the Virgin by the Luca Signorelli school. The church of Santa Maria della Fraternità houses four paintings by Giovanni Camillo Sagrestani and the statue of Madonna and Child by Andrea della Robbia (around 1460), based on a model by his uncle Luca. Architectural works of Foiano include the 14th century Palazzo Pretorio along one side of Piazza Cavour, and the Palazzo delle Logge on the other, built between the 16th and 17th centuries. The Palazzo delle Logge was the residence of Ferdinando II de Medici and the Municipal Historic Archive and the Library are now housed inside, with some of the halls used for exhibitions. The Civic Tower has been recently restored, preserving its original proportions and façade. The Garibaldi Theatre which used to be called Monte Pio in 1570 and the Palazzo Neri-Serneri are also found within the old town. Also, the grain loggias bearing the Medici arms are a good example of Foiano’s long history. Close to the town is located the small octagonal temple of Santo Stefano della Vittoria, built by Giorgio Vasari for Duke Cosimo I and dedicated to Cosimo's victory in the battle of Scannagallo. There might be a few Chianina Ox in the fields to see, these were once the main source of power for the region.
FOOD AND WINE IN THE AREZZO PROVINCE | TUSCANY
Arezzo’s Province has a rich agricultural tradition and many Italian specialities originate from here.
FOODS IN THE AREZZO PROVINCE
The cuisine from the Arno, Chiana and Tiber Valleys, boasts traditional products that date back centuries. It is thanks to expert farmers and producers who continue to keep these ancient traditions alive. Many of these producers are officially recognised and protected by European certificates that were started by the Province and Chamber of Commerce of Arezzo with the local Agriculture Categories Associations.
The Arezzo area is famous for producing several varities of products. Among them are olive oil, beans (Fagiolo Zolfino, Fagiolo Coco Nano, Fagiolo dall’Occhio, Cece Piccino), cheeses (goat, sheep, ricotta and Abbucciato Aretino), and honey.
The area is also famous for its meat (Valdarno chicken, Chianina beef) and cured meats (Capocollo, Finocchiona, prosciutto Dop Toscano, Tuscan salami, Soprassata, Tarese del Valdarno).
Local classics include Mugello tortelli (a potato filling and meat ragù), “all'aretina” (sliced steak), ribollita (a type of soup), pici con cinghiale (pasta with wild boar), Aretine tripe, rabbit with fennel and pappardelle and Aretine goose.
The local Colli Aretini wine is the prefect accompaniment to the meal which should end with a plate of cantuccini and Vin Santo.
LORO CIUFFENNA | TUSCANY
Loro Ciuffenna, one of the most distinctive towns of the Valdarno Superiore, is located on the slopes of the southern ridge of Pratomagno at an elevation of 320 m (1,050 ft), and has become a popular tourist destination during the past 25 years, with many English and Romans restoring houses in the villages high up in the neighbouring hills. The original road into town was over a Roman bridge, one of the seven along the route and there is still a fine mediaeval bridge over the deep ravine that divides Loro Ciuffenna into two parts. Much of the town centre is mediaeval in architecture, and one may view the ruins of a large water-powered mill, dating to before 1200 AD, that until quite recently produced chestnut and other flours. Available water power was an important contributing factor in the establishment of Loro Ciuffenna and neighbouring villages.
The area where Loro Ciuffenna lies on the old road between Arezzo and Fiesole was inhabited in ancient times. Livy, in the twelfth book of his history of the Romans, Ab Urbe Condita, says that Loro Ciuffenna was founded by the Etruscans under the name of the torrent that passes through the town, Ciuffenna, which is undoubtedly of Etruscan origin. The Etruscans very likely also founded the nearby town of Gropina, the name of which is probably derived from the Etruscan "Krupina.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Loro Ciuffenna became a permanent settlement in the 4 C when the original structure underlying the 9 C church of La Gropina was built. (The bell tower at La Gropina dates back to the early 1200s.) The town is mentioned in a document dated 939. The name Loro is used for the first time in 1050, derived from the Latin Laurus (bay tree), while Ciuffenna is the name of the torrent that dominates the layout of the town. "Ciuffenna" is given as "Iofinne" in a document of 1037 and is derived from the Roman personal name Clufennius, which itself is of Etruscan origin. The name of the stream was added to the original name of the town in 1863.
With the paving of the Cassia Vetus road, Etruscan settlements saw a flourishing in trade and cultural exchanges, which promoted urbanisation and social development. The progressive abandonment of the Cassia Vetus and its replacement in the late second century BC by the more practical and direct Cassia Adriano which passes through the valley produced a general exclusion of the communities that developed in the hills, in favour of the centres closest to the new line of communication.
Following the decline in Roman power, the communities of the Valdarnese plateau were periodically under the sway of the Byzantines and the Lombards. The local holy places show strong influences resulting from Lombard rule. Loro Ciuffenna later became part of the fiefdom of the Guidi noble family, before falling under the rule of Florence in 1293. Documents show that shortly afterwards, the area was subject to moderate interest by local powers, including the Bishop of Arezzo.
LUCIGNANO | TUSCANY
Lucignano is a comune (township) in the Province of Arezzo, in the Tuscany Region. Lucignano is located 20 km southeast of Florence and 10 km southwest of Arezzo. Lucignano borders the townships of Foiano della Chiana, Marciano della Chiana, Monte San Savino, Rapolano Terme, and Sinalunga.
WHAT TO SEE AT LUCIGNANO
Lucignano represents a well conserved medieval walled hill-top village, elliptical in shape. It was strategically located between Siena and Arezzo, and between 1200 and 1500 was disputed between these cities and Florence and Perugia. The name Lucignano probably derives from the Roman family of the consul Licinio. Once the town came under the rule of Florence, construction began of the fortress, attributed to Bernardo Puccini; the sanctuary of the Madonna della Querce (attributed to the Vasari) in 1568; convent of the Cappuccini (c. 1580); the churches of Misericordia (1582) and della Collegiata (1594). Of note is the elaborate reliquary made for the Franciscan church, now in the Museo Civico. Called the L’albero della vita it is a gilded and bejeweled tree surmounted by a crucified figure. It is signed by two jewelers, Ugolino da Vieri in 1350 and Gabriello D'Antonio in 1471.
MARCIANO DELLA CHIANA | TUSCANY
Marciano della Chiana is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Arezzo in the Italian region Tuscany, located about southeast of Florence and about southwest of Arezzo. Marciano della Chiana borders the following municipalities: Arezzo, Castiglion Fiorentino, Foiano della Chiana, Lucignano, Monte San Savino. The town is of medieval origins, dating to the Lombard domination in Tuscany; later it was acquired by the commune of Arezzo and then by the Republic of Siena. In 1554 it was the seat of the Battle of Marciano (or Scannagallo).
MONTE SAN SAVINO | TUSCANY
Monte San Savino is a town and comune in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany ( Italy). It is located on the Essa stream in the Valdichiana. Several of its frazioni occupy higher hills, like Gargonza and its castle at and Palazzuolo at an elevation of 500 meters a.s.l.
Monte San Savino was one of the first urban settlements in Tuscany, Italy. It originated around 1100, but a further century had to pass before Monte San Savino could be considered a centre of a certain social, political and cultural importance of Tuscany in those times.
WHAT TO SEE IN MONTE SAN SAVINO
- Palazzo di Monte
- Logge dei Mercanti
- Palazzo Pretorio
- Church of Santi Tiburzio and Susanna (13th century), at Gargonza, housing Tuscan Renaissance paintings.
RAPOLANO TERME | TUSCANY
Rapolano Terme is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Siena in the Italian region Tuscany, located about southeast of Florence and about east of Siena in the area known as the Crete Senesi. Until 1949 it was known simply as Rapolano. The municipality includes several minor towns, among which the village of Serre di Rapolano.