Arno Valley


This unique and picturesque valley begins at the point where, in the vicinity of Arezzo, the river Arno changes course and heads north. It was formed in prehistoric times by the natural discharge of waters from a lake which continued to inundate its basin down to the end of the tertiary period. The valley itself is made up of a series of gentle slopes broken by innumerable peaked ridges eroded over time by rainwater. There is a variety of colours to be seen here: the dark thicket of pines at the top of the gulleys, the shadowy oaks hidden at the bottom of the ravines with their yellowish clay walls cut open and bare like unhealable wounds, the immortal silver of the olives groves and the green vines which mature and finally turn red and gold each year as the summer months slowly draw to a close.

arno valley

Dotted along the valley standing out against the horizon, about an hour's walking distance from each other are the village belltowers, old town towers, parish churches and castles, some bearing an Etruscan sounding name like Loro Ciuffenna, Gropina and Cennina. Due to its great wealth, Valdarno was the scene of many a bloody battle bet when two cities which, towards the end of the Middle Ages, vied for power in Tuscany: Guelph Florence and Ghibelline Arezzo .
At the close of the 13th century, in an effort to resist pressure exerted on them by warlike Aretine bishops who controlled powerful and well fortified castles in the Valdarno-Cennina, Castiglione degli Ubertini and Laterina-the Florentines built three "walled forties", three fortified villages : San Giovanni, Terranuova and Castelfranco. After the death of Bishop Guido Tarlati in 1327, the Republic of Arezzo experienced slow but inevitable decline until 1384 when it was annexed to the Florentine Republic once the struggles were over, new administrative boundaries delineating Aretine control were drawn up in Valdarno an included the there Valled cities built by the Florentines a century earlier. Tree roads from Arezzo lead to the Valdarno an pass through its entire length terminating in Florence: the Autostrada del Sole (motorway of the sun), state high way n°69 which follows the Arno river and the secondary Road "Setteponti" already in existence in Etruscan times, which winds its way along the lower slopes of Pratomagno overlooking the valley from the likely shores of the former Pliocene lake.
Athough preserving its agricultural traditional with the production of high quality wine and olive oil, the Valdarno is however to be considered on of the oldest and most important industrial area in the whole Aretine economy . the industrial development restricted in particular areas, as left untouched the landscape and the artistic heritage of the Valdarno.


San Giovanni Valdarno
The largest of the sites which the Florentines fortified in the 13th century against attacks from the Aretine Republic. The defensive plan of the town, reminiscent of a Roman encampment, betrays its military origin.

Arnolfo di Cambio erected its mayoral palace, which still serves as Town hall: one of the finest examples of the same architectural style in which Florence's Palazzo Vecchio was designed. The 15th century Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie as an 18th century façade. Among priceless works of art in its spacious triplenaved interior, there are some paintings by Giovanni da San Giovanni, Paolo Schiavo and a magnificent "Annunciazione" by Beato Angelico.


Its elliptical layout, cut by a longitudinal axis, is one of the most curious examples of town planning of the middle ages. There are important works of art in the 16th century Collegiata.

In a 15th century building with delicately arcaded cloisters, which nowadays houses the Accademia Valdarnese, a Museo Paleontologico as been established. It has a collection of some impressive fossilized remains from the Pliocene period, discovered in this stretch of the Arno Valley.

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In the Surroundings

Arezzo Valley
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 Casentino Valley

 Chiana Valley

Tiber Valley



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