AREZZO, a hidden jewel in the Tuscan landscape, not yet overwhelmed by curious tourist, this town has been nicked named by many as an outdoor museum - every corner is an exhibition of Italy`s glorious past and Arezzo part of it.
Arezzo is set on a steep hill rising from the floodplain of the Arno. From a big parkin with an escalator you can get the top of the town.Here you can find the impressive cathedral, the town hall and the Medici Fortress (Fortezza Medicea), from which the main streets branch off towards the lower part as far as the gates. The upper part of the town maintains its medieval appearance despite the addition of later structures.
Arezzo`s heart is Piazza Grande, with its crenellated towers and fourteenth century wooden balconies, Romanesque apse, sixteenth century fountain, and Vasari Palazzo and Loggias. A mixture of contrasting styles, everything in this piazza is metered and beautiful, all in perfect harmony. If you venture into the surrounding streets you`ll discover the artisans of Arezzo, a world of humanity that the industrial civilisation has not destroyed, to the contrary.
Very close to Piazza Grande there is the Basilica of San Francesco (13th-14th centuries), in Tuscan-Gothic style. Of the projectd façade cover in sculpted stone only the lower band was completed. The interior has a single nave: the main attraction is the History of the True Cross fresco (1453-1464) cycle by Piero della Francesca in the Bacci Chapel. Under the church is another Basilica with a nave and two aisles (Basilica inferiore), today used for art exhibitions.
Today Arezzo is also known for has a starring role in Roberto Benigni's film Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella, 1997). It is the place in which the main characters live before they are shipped off to a Nazi concentration camp.
POPPI is located at the centre of the Casentino, one of the most beautiful valleys in Tuscany.
In 2001 Poppi was mentioned like ' Uno dei Borghi più Belli d Italia ' ( one of the pretties village of Italy )
The medieval village is a rare walled town, with the Castello dei Conti Guidi at its highest point, dominating over all.
The Castle was designed by the celebrated Di Cambio family of architects, and was a “prototype” for Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Built in the 12th century, its façade has two-mullioned windows, with a high tower rising above it at the centre. It is surrounded by a defense wall with Guelf embattlements and a broad moat. Thanks to frequent restorations over the centuries, the castle is in excellent condition. It houses a library, the Biblioteca Rilliana, which has hundreds of medieval manuscripts and precious incunabula.
Another important element is the Conti Chapel, with a cycle of 14th-century frescoes attributed to Taddeo Gaddi, a pupil of Giotto.
A pleasant conclusion to the visit is a walk along the circuit of medieval walls, from which there are lovely views of the Tuscany countryside.
CASENTINO NATIONAL PARK
Millenary Forests between Romagna and Tuscany
A large protected area in the Apennines of Tuscany and Romagna, including the largest and best preserved woods and forests in Italy, and housing a great heritage of flora and fauna: wolves and golden eagles among predators, and many species of ungulates. The forests and a number of natural habitats are the setting of the signs of the millenary human presence: small villages, mule tracks, and above all the two charming sanctuaries of Camaldoli and La Verna
It was built after the year 1000 as a hostel in order to replace the castle of Fontebuona owned by the count Maldolo, and it later became the monastery of the Camaldoli monks. In the 16th century there was a printing house in it, where the 'Costituzioni Camaldolesi' establishing the rules of the forest management were printed. The cloisters and the Church of St. Donnino and Ilariano, with their beautiful paintings by Vasari, are wonderful works of art. On one side of the monastery there is the ancient chemist's shop with alembics, mortars, stoves, and precious manuscripts coming from the galenical laboratory of the monks.
Situated in a defensive place on the steep southern wall of Mt. Penna, the famous Franciscan sanctuary has always been a destination for pilgrims: it lies within a silent and gloomy wood where the Saint spent most of his hermit's life. The calcareous nature of the mountain shaped its harsh morphology, characterized by a number of ravines and natural cavities opening up under the shadow of majestic maples, ashes, elms, and beeches. Some particularly suggestive places were chosen by the Saint and by the monks for their prayers.
The mountain was given to St. Francis in 1213 by the Casentinese count Orlando Cattani, who is today buried in the small church of Santa Maria degli Angeli whose building he supported. In September 1224, the miracle of the stigmata took place at the Verna. The event was recalled by Dante in the Paradiso and is still commemorated in a solemn festivity.