Valdichiana and Etruscans routes
Val di Chiana is one of the four valleys surrounding Arezzo. The valley is formed by a fertile plain, intensively exploited by the Etruscans and Romans, which became progressively marshy in the Middle Ages. For this reason, the surrounding rolling hills welcomed towns and villages, which grew higher for both defensive reasons and to stay away from unhealthy areas. From the XVI century, reclamation works began, returning the land to agriculture. Today those scenic places are a priceless heritage of art, history and beauty.
Seen from above, the Val di Chiana looks like a large garden shaped through the centuries by nature and man, who have worked side by side for this territory. The largest part of the valley falls within the territory of Arezzo and includes some of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany, all settlements of ancient origins and rich in treasures, which in the Middle Ages took on their present appearance. Cortona, Castiglion Fiorentino, Foiano della Chiana, Lucignano, Monte San Savino, Marciano della Chiana and Civitella in Val di Chiana are the municipalities of reference.
“I was making this observation in the vicinity of Arezzo, where a magnificent plain stretches out. It is not possible to see more beautiful fields; there is no gorge of land which is not perfectly worked, prepared for sowing.”
“Trip to Italy” by J.W. Goethe
Val di Chiana, recorded as Clanis Aretinum by Pliny the Elder, stretches 104 kilometres from Arezzo to Orvieto. It is furrowed by the Canale Maestro della Chiana in a northerly direction, where it flows into the Arno river at Ponte Buriano. In Roman times the waters flowed instead in the opposite direction towards the Tiber via the Clanis river. The Etruscans were the first to implement measures to regulate the waters, so as to make the land cultivable and the ancient river navigable. The valley was kept so fertile and productive for a long time that it was remembered as the “granary of Etruria”. In the Middle Ages the waters began to stagnate, swamping the area, until land reclamation works from XVI to XIX century drained the swamps and changed the course of the river.
An itinerary among the most important Etruscan cities in history
This itinerary links Arezzo, Cortona and Chiusi, three of the twelve Etruscan lucumonies, federated city states. Starting from the traces left by the ancient people in the historic centre of Arezzo or preserved in the Gaio Cilnio Mecenate National Archaeological Museum, you can reach Cortona, to visit the masterpieces of the MAEC and a widespread archaeological park with eleven sites, to conclude the itinerary in Chiusi, with the mysterious Labyrinth of Porsenna and the National Archaeological Museum in Chiusi.
One of the oldest monasteries in the Arezzo area
One of the oldest and most influential Benedictine monasteries of the Middle Ages in the Val di Chiana, the Abbey of Santa Maria a Farneta experienced its heyday from X to XIV century. Nowadays, of the ancient abbey complex, the precious church survives, with its perfectly preserved crypt, where you can admire columns of various materials from buildings dating back to Roman times.
An itinerary to get to know this prized animal, between pastures and farms
The Chianina is a native breed of cattle from central Italy, especially the Val di Chiana, with very ancient origins. Known for more than two thousand years, mentioned by Virgil, Pliny the Elder and other Latin authors, it was used as a working breed by the Etruscans and Romans, but because of its white coat it was also used in triumphal processions and sacred ceremonies. Today it is mainly bred for its prized meat.
A fully protected cycle and pedestrian path
This itinerary runs along the Canale Maestro della Chiana, the Sentiero della Bonifica is a bi-directional cycle/pedestrian path that connects Arezzo to Chiusi and involves twelve municipalities, eight in the province of Arezzo and four in that of Siena, for a total length of about 62 km. Along its route, suitable for everyone, one can admire unique landscape views and admirable works of hydraulic engineering.
An itinerary along the shores of the lake among small villages and boat trips to its islands
An Umbrian lake basin on the border with Tuscany and the largest lake in central Italy, Lake Trasimeno is framed by gentle hills with the exception of the western part, which opens towards the Val di Chiana. The villages along its shores allow for unique routes between nature and history. Its calm waters allow for water sports such as canoeing and sailing.
Arezzo territory and the Ponte Buriano and Penna Nature Reserve
Cycling, walking, horse riding, canoeing or rafting: there are many ways to experience the territory around Arezzo. Amidst hills covered with olive groves and vineyards, along the banks of the Arno, here nature is truly beautiful and allows experiences that would be unthinkable elsewhere.
Middle Ages and Renaissance in Arezzo and its Valleys
From the castles of Casentino, to the strongholds of Val di Chiana, to the fortified villages of Valtiberina. So many fascinating places, where the mystical Middle Ages of the parish churches and the bloody battles between Guelphs and Ghibellines gave way at a certain moment to humanistic thought. Thus began that cultural and philosophical renewal that later marked the Renaissance period and filled the land of Arezzo with new light, bringing the artistic and architectural masterpieces that we can still admire today.