The Casentino is doubtless a fascinating, even mysterious destination for holidays. Due to its particular geographical morphology, it abounds in forest areas – most of them within the National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi – and is surrounded and protected by mountains all around. So, though it near Arezzo and can be reached in an hour by car from Florence, it preserved its natural “isolation” over the centuries, and makes for unusual, surprising itineraries. It is not only a naturalistically rich and interesting area. There are many magnificent “borghi”, castles, and monasteries. This land was inhabited since prehistory, then there were various important Etruscan and Roman settlings, and in the middle ages it was theatre of epical battles fought by the dominating cities in Tuscany one against the other. Many testimonies are left.
There is also diversity in landscapes and environments, from the great forest on the mountains to the hilly, green plains on the valley floors. The main urban centres are Poppi, officially among the “most beautiful borghi in Italy”, and Bibbiena, the main industrial and and artisan town in the area. The Casentino is a destination for those interested in art and religion too. There are the splendid villages and “borghi” with their Romanic churches, important centres of religious culture, such as the Santuario della Verna, chosen by Saint Francis for praying because of its tranquillity, and the Eremo of Camaldoli. And the great castles with their impressive dungeons, probably an inspiration for Dante’s visual idea of the circles of Hell in the Divine Comedy.
But there is much more, also for green tourism and sportspersons: many and varied trekking trails, which you can take alone or with expert local guides, and an array of products and recipes of the old Casentino culinary tradition, prepared to the present day according to the old artisan ways and exclusively with local ingredients. During the whole year, according to seasons, one finds many festivals and events about local traditions and products. The Chestnut Festival in October, the original Train of Tastes, from May to December, in the same period as the celebrated Antique Fair in Arezzo, which allows you to cross ample stretches of this land on board of old steam engines and trains. One travels very slowly and leisurely, with stops for tasting particular gastronomical products.