Considered the undisputed pearl of Casentino, Poppi dominates Casentino with its castle. The name of the place appears for the first time in documents from the second half of the 12th century, when it is already linked to the counts Guidi. In the second part of the 13th century the area took the shape of the fortified town that we see today and until 1440, when the town became the seat of a vicar of the Florentine Republic, the history of Poppi is inextricably linked to the noble Guidi family.
During the 20th century the area surrounding the hill, born as a castle market and known as “Ponte a Poppi”, “ponte” means bridge, for the presence of the passage over the Arno, was modernized and today is the commercial center of the place. This allowed the ancient part at the top to reach our well-preserved days and to insert Poppi in the club of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”.
In Piazza della Repubblica the Castle of the Guidi Counts is the symbol of the town. The building was built between the 11th and 12th centuries but was renovated from 1274. Uncertain is the authorship of the 13th century reconstruction, for which Lapo di Cambio and Arnolfo di Cambio were proposed. After observing the majestic tower, redesigned during the 19th century, you access the fortress passing the bridge over the moat and the small tower called “Munizione”. From the courtyard of the ground floor you can admire the wooden balconies, the fifteenth-century staircase, the arches, the prisons, the stables, the sculptures and the various coats of arms of the Florentine vicars. The first floor houses the “Salone delle Feste”, seat of the City Council, and the Rilli-Vettori Library, with its ancient part consisting of twenty-five thousand pieces including books, incunabula and manuscripts and the modern and contemporary. On the second floor you can admire the decorated noble rooms, the Battle Room of Campaldino and the Chapel with the cycles of frescoes attributed to Taddeo Gaddi, dating back to the thirties of the 14th century.
The bust of Dante Alighieri is located on the left of the façade. The poet exiled from Florence stayed there around 1310.
From the staircase to the right of the castle you reach the sixteenth-century Monastery of the Camaldolesi with the nearby Church of the Most Holy Annunciation (chiesa della Santissima Annunziata) in Via Mino da Poppi and the former Church of San Lorenzo in Piazza Bordoni, now Gallery San Lorenzo dedicated to contemporary art. Going down Via Conti Guidi you will find the Propositura dei Santi Marco e Lorenzo, built in the 13th century but rebuilt and reconsecrated in 1784. In front of its facade is the Oratory of the Madonna del Morbo in Piazza Amerighi. The hexagonal temple was erected between 1657 and 1705 together with the town hall of Palazzo Giorgi.
Along Via Cavour, bordered by narrow and characteristic arcades, you reach the church of the Badia di San Fedele, built in the second half of the 12th century by the Vallombrosian monks. Enlarged and transformed several times, it houses works ranging from the thirteenth to the 17th century. In the left aisle there is the 15th century reliquary bust of the patron saint, Blessed Torello da Poppi, while the crypt houses his remains. Also on Via Cavour there is Palazzo Giorgi, the municipal exhibition center. From Piazza Gramsci and the nearby Porta Santi di Cascese we see the Tower of the Devils that was part of the first phase of the Poppi fortification. Tradition links it to the bloody Countess Matelda.
The plain north of the castle, called Campaldino, on June 11, 1289 was the scene of one of the most famous battles of the Italian Middle Ages, fought by the Guelphs led by Florence and the Ghibellines led by Arezzo. Among the ranks of the first ones there was also the young Dante Alighieri.
In the territory of Poppi lies Camaldoli, one of the most important religious places of the Arezzo area, near the mountain range of the Apennines of Tuscany and Romagna. According to tradition, in 1012 the Benedictine monk Romualdo founded a community of hermits here from which the Order of the Camaldolese monks was born some time later. The monastery finished in the 11th century and restored various times through the ages, has the guest quarters, the ancient pharmacy and the church with its baroque style where some works by Giorgio Vasari from the 15th century are kept. Higher up there is the hermitage created by st. Romualdo where the seclusion cells, the church from the 18th century, the dining hall, a second guest quarter and the library are.
Around Poppi there are lots of suggestive hamlets deep in nature. On the south there are Buiano and Memmenano, east of Poppi are Avena and Moggiona, and a small road connecting to Lierna. Near the border with the Emilia-Romagna region there is the weather station of Badia Prataglia. North of Poppi there is Porrena, a vibrant industrial and artisan small town but in its upper part there is the restored hamlet of Corsignano. On the west side there are the ruins of the castle of Fronzola and Quota, the door to the Pratomagno range from the side of Casentino.
Castle of the Guidi Counts
Church of the Madonna del Morbo
The medieval village
Church of San Fedele
View of the Arno River, Bibbiena in the background