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  7. The Land Reclamation Path

The Land Reclamation Path

A 62-kilometre itinerary that follows the ancient road for the maintenance of the Canale Maestro della Chiana, the “Vittorio Fossombroni” Land Reclamation Path is a bi-directional cycle/pedestrian path that connects Arezzo to Chiusi and covers twelve municipalities, eight in the province of Arezzo (Arezzo, Civitella in Val di Chiana, Monte San Savino, Marciano, Castiglion Fiorentino, Lucignano, Foiano della Chiana and Cortona) and four in the province of Siena (Sinalunga, Torrita di Siena, Montepulciano and Chiusi).

The path is dedicated to the great hydraulic engineer from Arezzo Vittorio Fossombroni, the man who during the nineteenth century gave the decisive turning point to the reclamation of the valley. It allows you to walk and cycle in places where man and nature have interacted in an unparalleled manner, thus enabling you to admire unique landscape views and admirable hydraulic engineering works that over the centuries have made it possible to subtract from the waters the land of the Val di Chiana, which had become progressively marshy in the Middle Ages.

The path starts from the Chiusa dei Monaci, on the western outskirts of Arezzo, a spectacular work to regulate the flow of water already mentioned in documents in 1115, commissioned by the Benedictine monks of the Badia delle Sante Flora e Lucilla di Torrita di Olmo. The Chiusa was rebuilt several times over the centuries. Its current appearance is mainly the result of work carried out between 1829 and 1839 under the direction of Alessandro Manetti.

Continuing into the municipal territory of Arezzo, you come to Ponte alla Nave, where for centuries a small river port operated for boats transporting grain and other products from the southern part of the Val di Chiana. In 1781, a few metres from the bridge, large Magazzini del Grano (Grain Warehouses) were built, where products were stored.

Once past the Ponti d’Arezzo, one can observe the so-called Manufatti d’immissione, built to regulate and disperse the energy of the current of the streams that flow into the Canale Maestro in the stretch between the municipalities of Civitella in Val di Chiana and Monte San Savino, preventing the formation of eddies and the erosion of the river bed.

At the Casello idraulico di Frassineto(Frassineto hydraulic tollgate), we can see on the left the Villa di Frassineto in the municipality of Arezzo and on the right the Villa di Fontarronco in the territory of Savino, two of the ancient S.A.R. farms under direct Grand Ducal management that arose between the XVI and XVII centuries. The path then enters the territory of Marciano della Chiana with the Porto a Cesa, where the waters of the torrents coming from the Val di Chio converge through the Canale Allacciante dei Rii Castiglionesi. The great Colmate di Brolio (Brolio Streams) are located in the municipality of Castiglion Fiorentino.

Between Cortona and Foiano della Chiana you can admire the Botte allo Strozzo, a hydraulic artefact built to pass the Allacciante delle Chianacce over the Canale Maestro, at a point where the valley bottom forms a bottleneck.

From here we enter the Sienese area with the Torrione, part of the Fattoria dell’Abbadia, which until 1861 belonged to the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, and the Callone di Valiano, a scenic work of hydraulic engineering built in 1723 to regulate both the level of the waters of the lakes of Montepulciano and Chiusi and their discharge into the Canale Maestro to ensure their navigability.

The final stops along the Reclamation Path are the lakes of Montepulciano and Chiusi, connected to each other, with their protected nature reserves rich in flora and fauna, also suitable for birdwatchers. Here are the ancient towers of “Beccati Questo” and “Beccati Quest’altro”, which marked the borders between the territories of Siena and Perugia and later between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal States. The first is octagonal, the second is square. They served mainly as toll stations and today they ideally close an itinerary through history and nature that is suitable for everyone because of its easy route, unique of its kind in Italy.

Chiusa dei Monaci

Chiusa dei Monaci

The Land Reclamation Path along the Canale Maestro della Chiana

Frassineto

Noceto

Porto a Cesa

Porto a Cesa

Botte allo Strozzo

Callone di Valiano

Callone di Valiano

Towers of “Beccati Questo” and “Beccati Quest’altro”

Chiusi lake

Chiusi lake

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