Valleys of Tuscany

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Valleys of Tuscany

History of Tuscany

The Medici family

Here we introduce some of the principal valleys of Tuscany, many of which are sectors of the valley of the Arno or the valleys of rivers and streams flowing into the Arno. The main exceptions are the Valtiberina (Upper Tiber) and the Val di Merse (River Ombrone).

Castle of Poppi in the Casentino

Casentino

The Casentino (Valdarno Casentinese) is an oval-shaped valley varying in width across the Arno from 30 to 60 km. Its topography is highly varied, including both plains and densely forested mountains. These mountains have proven attractive to saints. St. Romuald built his hermitages at Camaldoli, and two hundred years later St. Francis of Assisi established the Sanctuary of La Verna, the headquarters of the Franciscan order. Among the main sights of interest is the Castle of Poppi dominating the valley from a hilly spur. More about the Casentino.

Val d'Orcia

Val d'Orcia

The diverse and yet highly distinctive landscape of the Val d'Orcia makes it one of the most attractive areas of Tuscany. The Valdorcia is more than just the valley of the river Orcia. It covers a large part of the area south the the Siennese hills almost as far as Monte Amiata. It includes not only the Crete Senesi and the "big sky" landscapes of the valley itself, but also beautiful towns such as Pienza, San Quirico and Montalcino. A number of famous castles in various states of repair dot the area, including the Rocca d'Orcia, and the grounds of La Foce are among the finest 20 C gardens in Tuscany. More about the Val d'Orcia.

Val di Chiana

Val di Chiana

The Val di Chiana, famous not least for the Chianina breed of oxen, source of bistecca alla fiorentina, spreads SW of Cortona towards the Val d'Orcia. The Aretine part of the Val di Chiana lies at the convergence of the four historical valleys of the province of Arezzo together with the Valtiberina, the Casentino (Upper Val d'Arno) and the Valdarno itself. The present-day appearance of the Val di Chiana is the result of marsh drainage and reclamation work that was started by the Romans and carried on right through to the 20 C. Several beautiful towns and villages, among them Montepulciano and Cetona, are part of the Val di Chiana. More about the Val di Chiana.

Val di Merse

Val di Merse

The Val di Merse begins few km SW of Sienna and is an area rich in both the works of Nature and of Man. The dense forests and streams, including the River Merse itself, are served by walking and horse riding trails, and there are numerous architectural gems in both the villages and the countryside, the most famous being the ruined Abbazia di San Galgano and the nearby Eremo di Montesiepi (Hermitage of Montesiepi). The only Romanesque cloister in Tuscany is at Torri and the village of Sovicille is surrounded by ancient castles, bridges and monasteries, as well as villas with formal gardens. More about the Val di Merse.

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