Bibbiena, the main centre of Casentino, has Etruscan and Roman traces in its territory, but it is between the 10th and 11th centuries that the place developed and took on the appearance of a fortified village, wanted by the bishops of Arezzo as an outpost in the lands dominated by the Guidi Counts. Faithful to the Ghibelline Arezzo, after the Battle of Campaldino on 11 June 1289 it was heavily ruined by the Florentine Guelphs who, according to the chronicles, besieged it for eight days and then plundered it.

In the 14th century, after reconstruction, it was one of the most important and strategic castles of Tarlati da Pietramala, until it fell under Florence in 1384, along with all the territory controlled by Arezzo. In 1440 it suffered a new devastation by the masnades of Niccolò Piccinino, paid by the Visconti of Milan. In 1509 the Florentines decided to dismantle the heavily damaged walls, of which today there are few remains.

The Clock Tower of Tarlati Square and the nearby Fabbri Gate remind of the glorious Middle Ages of Bibbiena, while the rest of the main buildings, such as Dovizi Palace, were erected from the 16th century, in a period of renovation for the area. Niccolini Palace houses the town hall and the “Piero Albertoni” Casentino Archaeological Museum, which traces the history of the valley through finds ranging from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages.

Among the religious buildings, the Propositura of st. Ippolito and Donato is the main church of the old town and stands where the chapel of the late castle was consecrated in 1314. Inside there are important works ranging from the 13th to the 17th century. In Via Berni there is the Oratory of San Francesco, built in Baroque style by the Compagnia delle Sacre Stimmate since 1736. In Via Dovizi there is the Church of San Lorenzo, with the homonymous convent of the 15th century adjacent.

The Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Sasso, one kilometre from Bibbiena, stands on the place where the apparition of the Madonna to a little girl took place, June 23rd, 1347. The Renaissance building was designed by Giuliano da Maiano from 1486. In the crypt there is the rock linked to the miracle.

In the territory of Bibbiena many places are worth visiting. In Contra there is the Church of San Giorgio documented since the twelfth century. In Gressa you can admire the castle that has belonged to the bishops of Arezzo since the 11th century, which also included the Church of San Jacopo. In Terrossola the Church of San Matteo e San Bartolomeo houses a “Sacred conversation” by Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli dated 1497.

Soci is the main production centre of Bibbiena territory, developed after the opening of a large wool mill in 1848. Originally it housed a mediaeval castle already present at the beginning of the 11th century, of which remains a tower. The nearby Villa La Mausolea is one of the most famous residences in Casentino. It was built by the Camaldolese monks between 1494 and 1496 as a refuge for pilgrims or for elderly monks. In the mid 17th century it was destroyed and then rebuilt in 1682.

Continuing towards the Mandrioli Pass and the Romagna we reach Partina, where we can admire the castle of the 11th century, rebuilt in neo-mediaeval style in the 12th century, the Church of San Biagio, born as an oratory but elevated to a parish church during the 18th century, and the remains of the ancient Parish Church (Pieve) of Santa Maria Assunta, documented since 1005 and remembered as one of the most important Casentino parish churches, built in the place of a church of Lombard origin, which was built on the remains of a Roman domus. In the 18th century it lost its title and was deconsecrated. Today it is part of a farmhouse.

Not far from Camaldoli is Serravalle, where in 1188 the bishop of Arezzo Amedeo, the abbot of Prataglia Guglielmo and the local lord Giuseppe da Marciano built a mighty castle on the top of a rocky spur, from which the road network to Romagna and the Casentino valley floor could be controlled. Of that place remains a mighty tower built in the 14th century, during a modernization of the fortress.

Clock Tower in Tarlati Square

Clock Tower


Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Sasso

Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Sasso

Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Sasso