Arezzo territory and the Ponte Buriano and Penna Nature Reserve
A landscape of gentle hills sloping down towards the Arno River, a protected natural area of great value that stretches for seven kilometres along the course of the great Tuscan river, the Pratomagno that watches over the remains of glorious castles, archaeological traces and ancient churches from above. It is a Romanesque bridge of extraordinary beauty that was also the backdrop for the world’s most famous and enigmatic painting: Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”.
On the right bank of the Arno, where the territories of Arezzo, Castiglion Fibocchi and Capolona meet and are crossed by the Via Setteponti and the Via dello Spicchio, you can see many tiny villages and ancient parish churches that stand out among skilfully cultivated fields and sinuous hills where time passes slowly. A rural and bucolic dimension of great charm for all who visit the place.
The Ponte Buriano and Penna Nature Reserve is a Tuscan landscape rich in biodiversity and with a great link with history and art. Large green spaces and woods where you can take walks. Accessible trails for an area of about seven kilometres along the riverbed of the Arno, from the Romanesque bridge of Ponte Buriano to the Penna dam. A trek to reconnect with nature and find the right inspiration.
Leonardo da Vinci often passed through the Arezzo area on his travels through Italy. He also knew it well because, commissioned by Cesare Borgia, he had carried out studies and surveys of the area between the Upper Valdarno and the Val di Chiana between 1502 and 1503. Landscapes such as the Balze or those seen at the confluence of the Chiana and the Arno remained in his memory and were reproduced, according to some scholars, in masterpieces such as “The Mona Lisa”, “The Virgin of the Rocks” and “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder”.
Nature, history and art also triumph if we move in the direction of Arezzo. The capital is in fact crowned by hills and small hills where many fascinating places are set, just asking to be discovered and experienced. A rich network of paths accessible to all allows visitors to explore them in every season of the year, enjoying ever new colours and scents, without ever losing sight of the towered profile of the city.
Arezzo was one of the twelve Etruscan lucumonies, the city-states federated in a league, and then a strategic Roman municipium. In the historical centre and throughout the territory, there are still many imprints left by two of the most fascinating and influential peoples of antiquity, which can be discovered by walking through the city streets, visiting the “Gaio Cilnio Mecenate” National Archaeological Museum, or by following itineraries immersed in nature.
On the summit of the San Cornelio hill, south-east of the city, lies the archaeological-naturalistic area of Castelsecco, the main extra-urban sanctuary among those that encircled Etruscan Arezzo, frequented since Archaic times.
The small valley of Bagnoro, south-east of Arezzo, owes its name to balneum aureum, in reference to the prestigious thermal baths that stood a short distance from the Pieve di Sant’Eugenia, one of the most beautiful and celebrated in the Arezzo area.
A fascinating work of hydraulic engineering, the Vasari Aqueduct has for over four centuries characterised the northern part of the city with its 52 monumental arches reminiscent of those of the Roman aqueducts. The course of the water begins on the slopes of the Alpe di Poti and ends in the heart of the city.
Built along the Canale Maestro della Chiana, the Chiusa dei Monaci (Monks’ Lock) is documented as early as 1115. This hydraulic work was fundamental in regulating the flow of water from the Valdichiana towards the Arno. Its current monumental appearance is that of 19th-century reconstruction.
Valdarno and the Pratomagno massif
The Upper Valdarno is a wide natural basin over which the Arno River flows, closed to the northeast by the Pratomagno massif and bordered to the southwest by the Chianti Mountains. The landscape is very diverse: alpine and solitary on the high slopes of Pratomagno; rugged by picturesque clay erosion in the Balze area, at the foot of the same ridge.
Valtiberina and Casentino between rivers and forests
Between the sources of the Arno and the Tiber valley, the rivers that have most recounted the history of Italy, you can travel through an area rich in splendid centuries-old forests and small villages that ooze history, fortified towns that were the scene of ancient battles, or places that gave birth to the greatest protagonists of Renaissance art and culture.