The most beautiful Villages of Tuscany - part1

Tuscany has a handful of big cities of art which are very popular with tourists (Florence, Siena, Pisa, ...), but there are also many less-known, wonderful, precious villages and towns with a typical Tuscan charm. One village is famous for its cheese or wine production, while in the other one you can find particular churches, squares and monuments. Others are beautiful because of their simplicity or their authenticity. Therefore we would like to focus on these less-known towns and villages. This is the first part.

In 2001 the Club of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy (I Borghi più Belli d'Italia) was founded through the incentive of the Tourism Council of the National Association of Italian Municipalities. The project arose from the need to promote the great heritage of history, art, culture, environment and traditions found in small Italian towns which are, for the most part, cut off from the main flow of visitors and tourists. Admission to the Club requires the meeting of a number of prerequisites, which are both structural, such as the architectonic harmony of the urban fabric and the quality of the public and private building heritage, as well as general, regarding the quality of life in the village in terms of activities and services for the people. It is also necessary to be committed to continuously improving these prerequisites. In these beautiful villages you will find the atmosphere, the fragrances and flavors which make typical local customs, products and traditions a way of life which is worth "savoring" with all five senses.

In all of Italy there are 271 member villages in the club of Most Beautiful Villages, of which 20 are located in Tuscany:
  • Barga, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and Coreglia Antelminelli(3) in the province of  LUCCA,
  • Scarperia (1) in the province of FLORENCE,
  • Montescudaio (1) in the province of PISA,
  • Anghiari, Castelfranco Piandiscò, Loro Ciuffenna, Raggiolo and Poppi(5) in AREZZO,
  • Suvereto (1) in the province of LIVORNO,
  • Buonconvento, Cetona, and San Casciano dei Bagni (3) in SIENA,
  • Giglio Castello, Montemerano, Pitigliano, Santa Fiora, Porto Ercole and Sovana (6) in GROSSETO.
Arezzo is one of the bigger cities in the region of Tuscany. The city is the capital of the homonymous province. Arezzo is a somewhat lesser known tourist stop in Tuscany. And yet five of the 20 most beautiful villages of Tuscany are located here.

ANGHIARI dominates the valley of the Tiber with its castles and imposing medieval walls. Thanks to its strategical position this border region of Tuscany is famous for numerous historic battles such as the battle between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Milan, which was commemorated in a magnificent but lost fresco by Leonardo da Vinci in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The annual traditional crafts fair attracts many tourists and craft lovers to Anghiari. In the town you can still feel the magic of the former medieval atmosphere, enjoy the spectacular panorama and the richness of the environment with the many churches and castles, the wooded landscapes and intact nature. But Anghiari is also a bustling town, with a rich cultural life, with theatre, folk traditions, love for literature and with a rich gastronomic tradition, real and full of flavor, such as the character of its inhabitants.

Castelfranco di Sopra
Castelfranco di Sopra
Within the city walls of CASTELFRANCO DI SOPRA you will find a wonderful mix of medieval and Renaissance styles. From the tower, Arnolfo Tower, you can enjoy a beautiful view of unusual rock formations or cliffs, called Le Balze. Leonardo da Vinci was very impressed by these mythical rock formations and he used them as a background in several paintings. The most famous painting with the Balze in the background is his masterpiece La Giocanda, better known as Mona Lisa. Don’t forget to visit the Abbey of San Salvatore.

The beautiful old bridge over the river Ciuffenna is very characteristic of the picturesque village of LORO CIUFFENNA. The stone houses built on the banks of the river Ciuffenna, the small alleys and the old bridge, are witnesses of the middle ages, which have left their marks on the village. The bridge leads to the entrance gate with the Clock, from where you enter the most fascinating area of the village, which is built along just one single road, which crosses the village from east to west. The road leads to the second entrance gate on the road that leads to Arezzo. Many of the local dishes in Loro Ciuffenna are based on chestnuts. In November there is a local Festival or Sagra dedicated to the chestnuts. Another local speciality is a type of yellow-coloured beans, called fagiolo zolfino

RAGGIOLO, a small medieval mountain village with narrow streets and ancient city walls, is one of the most recently added to the list of the most beautiful villages. Raggiolo is a bit isolated and is surrounded by the beautiful forests of the Casentino region. It is situated at an altitude of 600m and 10 km from the regional road SR70 that crosses the Casentino region from Arezzo to the Consuma pass. The village is best known for its chestnuts. There is an Ecological Chestnut Museum, which is open from June to September. There is a chestnut festival, Festa della Castagnatura at the end of October.

POPPI is situated on a 400m hilltop that overlooks one of Tuscany’s most stunning valleys, the Casentino Valley. Poppi still has the looks of a medieval town. You can admire the castle, Castello dei Conti Guidi, one of the most beautiful castles of Italy. The 13th century building is known to be the prototype for the Town Hall of Florence Palazzo Vecchio. In August there is the annual folk festival in Poppi "Gusto dei Guidi". Here you can try the best Tuscan wines and delicious dishes from the Casentino region. During this event you can visit the many wineries and historic buildings.

Near Florence, the regional capital of Tuscany and one of the most famous and most beautiful cities in Italy, you can find SCARPERIA, a gorgeous little town in the Mugello area. Scarperia is famous for its production of knives. Here, unlike other places where knives were produced, the craft does not belong only to the past. It still represents a source of income for many craftsmen. The Museum of Cutting Tools documents the history of this widespread artisanal activity in Scarperia. On the first Sunday of each month there is a collector's market where antiques, second hand and collector's pieces, stamps and coins are exchanged.
Every last Sunday in May, Scarperia dresses itself in flowers for the traditional event Infiorata. This event requires lots of preparation and brings together all the inhabitants of the town. The streets of the hamlet are decorated with flower petals to form colorful patterns. The petals are arranged inside models made the night before by residents of the hamlet to a theme which changes every year. Other recurrent events in Scarperia are the Renaissance Day, the first Sunday of September, Diotto, the re-evocation of the founding of Scarperia by the Florentine republic on the 8th (die-octo) of September. Besides being one of Italy's most beautiful villages, Scarperia also boasts to have Italy's world famous racetrack Mugello Circuit, which hosts the Italian MotoGP.

Splendid Holiday Farm with pool in Tuscany in Castelfranco di Sopra