The Casentino is a large valley in the province of Arezzo situated in the upper part of the Arno valley, which is born in Monte Falterona.
It has a wide and deep oval shape, surrounded by the same Monte Falterona, the highest peak of Monte Falco (1,685m), the Serra and Catenaia Alps while the ridge of Pratomagno rises from the hollow of the Consumma Pass.
The landscape is characterised by vast mountain forests which have preserved the valley’s natural state, rich in history and spirituality, where it is possible to trace St. Francis’s steps: The Sanctuary of Verna with the small church of “Santa Maria degli Angeli” and the church of the stigmata; the Monastery and Hermitage of Camaldoli founded by St. Romaldo, within the splendid forest of the same name.
The main towns are Bibbiena and Poppi, which is part of the club called “Italy’s most beautiful hamlets” but the whole area is dotted with small villages and castles once belonging to the Guidi counts.
The Ecomuseum of the Casentino Valley has been created to make this natural environment known and appreciated, with various exhibition areas and itineraries spread all over the valley. Didactic projects, cultural initiatives and festivals are promoted annually.
A tourist can take a walk in the best preserved woods and forests in Italy also thanks to the institution of the Casentino Forest National Park in 1993, spread over an area of 36,000 hectares between the provinces of Forlì, Cesena, Arezza and Florence.
Many are the dishes to be tasted but the best are those made from ingredients coming straight from the woods and mountains: soups, first courses, roasts, hams, cheeses. A particular dish is the “acquacotta” of Stia made with onions, broth and chicken livers, and potato “tortelli”. The main ingredients of the poorer dishes are chestnuts, eaten during the autumn months, either boiled (“le ballotte”) or roasted (“le bruciate”). Bread and sweet polenta are made from chestnut flour. Typical products are: Casentinese pecorino cheese, ricotta or “raviggiolo”, made from goats’ milk, the Casentino ham from the “grey” Casentino swine, bred in the wild and fed on acorns and chestnuts; red potatoes from Cetica, a D.O.P. product cultivated since the beginning of the last century after potatoes had been introduced into the valley following a period of famine.