Discover the treasures and the most enchanting places in the area around Borgo dei Corsi.
Experience the unique charm of verdant and lush nature in the small Casentino Valley.
The setting is Tuscany, on the border with Romagna. The Arno river flows through the valley, which lies in the shadow of the city of Florence, and is highly appreciated throughout the region for its geographic location and the features of the land, as well as for its virtually unspoiled nature.
The fact that this is a “closed valley,” the devotion and respect for traditions, the vocation for culture, and the deep relationship with surrounding nature are just some of the features that make the Casentino Valley stand out to this day.
It is certainly no coincidence that one of the most beautiful parks in Europe is located here: the National Park of the Casentino Forests, Mount Falterona and Campigna. The landscape of the Casentino Valley is dotted with numerous well-preserved and lively mediaeval villages. This territory has exceptional charm, made up of ancient forests and valleys, waterfalls, streams and scenic panoramas. This landscape has been watched over and protected, allowing the establishment of the national park. Covering a verdant area of over 306,000 hectares, the national park boasts a rich biodiversity with 1358 plant species identified in the park’s recent flora list.
The harmony between the animal and plant kingdoms.
Of all the many different mountains in Europe’s nature reserves, Sasso Fratino is considered a very peculiar area. It hosts animal and plant species that date back to ancient times, still thriving in a kind of protected paradise, inaccessible to humans.
The wolf and golden eagle have returned to this area, and large herds of stags, roe deer and fallow deer have been constantly present. Their presence is the most visible effect of the ecological harmony of this vast area. Remember to take your camera with you to capture unique images of landscapes and animals in their natural habitat – certainly rare animals and plants will appear before your lens.
Authentic mountain villages and breath-taking views.
Visitors can ascend to the welcoming mountain villages, and experience the ancient traditions that are lovingly carried on to this day. You can reach small churches atop scenic mountain peaks and admire the artworks hidden inside; you can hike along mountain trails deep in this unique natural setting, and enjoy the breath-taking views before your eyes.
The Casentino Valley is the ideal vacation spot for visitors who desire an active vacation, combining love for nature, adventure, art and authentic local Tuscan cuisine. The valley offers modern accommodations, welcoming information facilities, a deep relationship with the natural environment, and the opportunity to appreciate the local traditions that are still kept alive.
This hermitage is shrouded in silence, deep in breath-taking natural surroundings. Put your hiking boots on and take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk the many hiking trails that snake through the area and lead to the Hermitage of Camaldoli, nestled in the dense fir and beech forests of the Casentino National Park.
The Hermitage of Camaldoli was founded in the 11th century by St. Romuald; it later became the headquarters of the Benedictine monks of Camaldoli. Visitors can observe the original cell of St. Romuald as well as the 18th-century church and some of its environments, such as the chapter house with its beautiful woodwork ceiling and the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary.
We recommend the guided tour to learn more about the origins and history of the hermitage and about the daily life of the monks.
Enjoy a family visit to this sacred place of pilgrimage, which attracts thousands of faithful pilgrims through the natural reserve every year; this was the place of prayer where St. Francis of Assisi lived!
You will be amazed by the “Sasso Spicco” (protruding stone) and by a visit to the saint’s historical quarters, with its original bed as well as many terracotta works by Andrea and Luca della Robbia that adorn the shrine.
Dante Alighieri himself mentions the “crudo sasso” (rough stone) in the Paradise canticle of “The Divine Comedy” and refers precisely to the Sasso Spicco.
Some lines of the “Divine Comedy”, in the poet’s journey through Hell, describe the streams and green hills of the Casentino Valley that descend to the Arno, forming cold and soft channels.
“Li ruscelletti che de’ verdi colli
del Casentin discendon giuso in Arno,
faccendo i lor canali freddi e molli”.
(Dante Alighieri, Inferno XXX, 64-66)
In the Casentino Valley there are also numerous works by the Della Robbia family of sculptors, of which the churches and monasteries of the valley still bear indelible traces. And then there are the churches and castles that rise majestically on the green hills. Places that were once also the scene of bloody battles, such as the famous Battle of Campaldino, in which Dante himself took part.
Visitors can admire the Renaissance-era architectural monument of Santa Maria del Sasso. The landmark includes the sanctuary, monastery, and convent.
It is a Renaissance building of great historical, artistic and religious value, declared a National Monument in 1899. The sanctuary “Santa Maria del Sasso” takes its name from a large boulder on which Our Lady’s apparition occurred in 1347. The present monastery, consecrated in 1507, is rich in works of art by renowned historical figures and is guarded by priests and nuns of the Dominican order.
We encourage all our guests to visit the Poppi Castle: it is the main landmark of the Casentino Valley and is located only a few kilometres from us. Unlike all the other castles in the area, the Poppi Castle was never destroyed and has always served as the residence of local political power.
From its beginnings, the castle’s history has been closely linked to that of the largest feudal family in Casentino, the Conti Guidi, who lived in this palace for nearly four hundred years.
The castle is open for visits from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This landmark surely makes for an interesting visit for adults and a fascinating one for children.
A surely unmissable experience is a visit to the city of Arezzo, an ancient Etruscan centre, defined today by beautiful mediaeval buildings and piazze (town squares) with unique scenery. Don’t forget to taste the typical Arezzo cuisine accompanied by the renowned Chianti dei Colli Aretini wine, locally produced in this province.
Brief history of the city
Arezzo had its highest period of grandeur around the 11th century, when municipal institutions arose to curb the power of the bishop-counts. At the end of the 14th century, after being preyed on by the venture companies, it was finally incorporated into the Florentine state (1384). Between these two dates, the city experienced a glorious history of wars against Florence and Siena.
The ancient Etruscan town centre
The town, Arezzo (“Arretium”), had first been an important Etruscan hub, perched between the parish church, the cathedral and the fortress; later it became a Roman city with the settlement expanding toward the plain, thanks to extensions to the original walls. The ancient Etruscan-Roman walls that lay along the route of today’s Via Garibaldi stand as proof of that historical period. There are two valleys in the Arezzo area that preserve considerable Etruscan evidence: the Valdichiana and the Casentino.
Visitors can trace an itinerary of the Etruscans along regional road 71 (the Umbro-Casentinese), starting from Cortona, passing through Castiglion Fiorentino, Arezzo and ending at Pieve a Sovana in the municipality of Casel Focognano.
For the Etruscans, the symbolic figure of Arezzo is the Chimera, discovered in 1553 during the rebuilding of the walls: dating back to the early 4th century B.C., it represents a fantastic animal with a lion’s body and head, some features of a goat and a long serpentine tail.
A number of notable people hail from this magnificent city: from Petrarch to Vasari, to Aretino, who kept his surname secret, to uphold his story of illegitimate descent from a noble family. The construction of the Rome-Florence railway brought a breath of modernity to the town, along the new Guido Monaco street, the expansion of which ran parallel to industrial development.
The cuisine of Arezzo
Aretine cuisine is part the typical rustic Tuscan cuisine, based on grilled and barbecued roasts, game and poultry. Some of the most famous dishes are “pappardelle alla lepre,” (fresh pasta with hare) “gnocchi del Casentino” made with ricotta and spinach; chicken soup, lamb, duck, “l’anguilla all’aretina” (eel in pieces, skewered with bread and sage leaves), grilled chicken, fried and baked celery, stuffed artichokes, schiacciate (flatbreads) and sweet ramerino bread. The Chianti wine that is locally produced in this province is called Chianti Colli Aretini. The Bianco Vergine Valdichiana wine is also produced in the province.
Although it is a small town, Arezzo offers numerous leisure opportunities, from cinemas and theatre to many bars and pubs, as well as an assortment of shopping locations and the local goldsmiths and antique stores.