Route that exploits an ancient Etruscan path, created to connect Arezzo to Fiesole by traveling halfway between the Pratomagno massif and the Arno valley, which in Roman times became the important consular road Cassia Vetus. The Setteponti Route crosses the landscape of Valdarno Superiore, one of the most picturesque and heterogeneous in all of Tuscany.
The itinerary allows you to meet, without interruption, typical villages, ancient religious buildings, vineyards, and terraced olive groves that gently degrade towards the plain and the surprising landscape of Le Balze, a sort of “Monumental Valley” in the heart of Tuscany.
Coming from the city of Arezzo, the journey along the ancient road begins ideally from Ponte Buriano, magnificent Romanesque bridge of the 12th century on the Arno, which in 1992 was recognized as the one that acts as a backdrop to the “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci.
After passing it, you can choose whether to deviate to the recovered village of Rondine, which houses the Cittadella della Pace, or leave the municipal territory of Arezzo to enter that of Castiglion Fibocchi, an inhabited center grown around a castle that in the 12th century was ceded to Ottaviano dei Pazzi, called Bocco, and later was inherited by his sons. Hence the meaning of the toponym, that is “Castle of the Sons of Bocco”.
After passing Castiglion Fibocchi, you enter the municipal territory of Loro Ciuffenna. The first stop in Loro is San Giustino Valdarno, from where you can turn towards Il Borro, one of the most characteristic villages of the entire province, already marquessed by the warlord Alessandro del Borro, or continue until you meet the Pieve di San Pietro a Gropina in the western slopes of Pratomagno, a maximum example of Romanesque architecture of Valdarno Superiore and a national monument. After visiting the baptismal church, you continue the journey until you reach Loro Ciuffenna, where the oldest water mill for the production of chestnut flour in the region is in operation, built on a rock of the Ciuffenna stream that crosses the town.
From here we begin to see the profiles of the famous Balze, the result of geological phenomena still ongoing that lead to the constant erosion of lake sediments accumulated in the Pliocene, giving rise to natural spires interspersed with deep gorges. Walking along Setteponti Route towards the north or deviating through the paths that can be travelled by bike or on foot, you can admire up close some of these sculptures shaped by nature that also fascinated the great Leonardo da Vinci.
Together with Le Balze you will find delightful villages, such as those included in the municipal territory of Terranuova Bracciolini. Above all Montemarciano, a fortified centre of medieval origin with a 13th century door surmounted by a bell tower, and the town of Piantravigne, pearl of Le Balze, lying almost magically on the edge of a natural overhang.
Leaving the territory of Terranuova you enter that of Castelfranco Piandiscò, in the heart of the Florentine “new lands”, cities designed ex novo at the end of the 13th century by Florence as outposts in the valley. Castelfranco di Sopra, included among the “most beautiful villages in Italy”, is one of them.
Along Setteponti Route, just outside the village, is the Abbey of San Salvatore in Soffena, documented since the 11th century as a Vallombrosian monastery but of much older origin. Following is the last Arezzo bastion of the itinerary, Pian di Scò, a village that developed during the Middle Ages around its precious Pieve di Santa Maria a Scò, mentioned since the early years of the 11th century, one of the most important Romanesque parishes of Valdarno Superiore.
The ancient route continues from now on in Florentine territory, starting with jewels of art and faith in the surroundings of Reggello such as the Parish Church of San Pietro in Cascia, the Church of Sant’Agata in Arfoli and the Parish Church of San Pietro a Pitiana, all of medieval origin.
The Via dei Setteponti
Pieve di San Pietro a Gropina and Pratomagno in the background
Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie
Piantravigne and Le Balze in the background
Le Balze Natural Area
Along the Via dei Setteponti