Every place, you know, is characterized by the right period for visiting it, at Car-Shooters we also add the right car as usual. That’s why tought about the Casentino when Porsche Italy gave us a chance to try a Cayenne GTS. The Casentino is an hidden jewel of the Tuscan Apennines that in the month of October allows its visitors to see amazing colors and magnificent views. The proposed itinerary starts and ends in Pontassieve, near the city of Florence where you can take SP1 “Setteponti” road and the Consuma Pass, from where we will return back, completing a distance of approximately 230km of great roads, some off-road fun and definitely beautiful places and landscapes to admire.
For this type of jurney we recommend an SUV and luckily I’m behind the wheel of this beautiful Porsche Cayenne GTS that Leonardo has already fully described. Accompanied by the loud sound of the 3.6 V6 Biturbo we leave Pontassieve headed to the Valdarno through the SP1 “Setteponti” road. The distinctive name of this road, which connects Florence and Arezzo, has origins in the past, in fact this is one of the oldest roads of Tuscany, builded by the Etruscans and later used by the Romans. This road runs right through 7 rivers coming from Pratomagno (the Appennino’s piece that separates Valdarno and Casentino), so here’s the reason of this particular name.
In the village of Sant’Ellero we exit from the morning traffic taking the SP88 that leads us into a path full of history with the typical Tuscan landscapes. After few corners we decide to stop for a first break at the church of “San Pietro a Pitiana” that gives us a fantastic panoramic view of the Valdarno. The rainy day gives us a unique spectacle of clouds at low altitude, a great way to remind us that the fall season is incoming.
Just some minutes for few shots and our Porsche is again on the road heading to the “Setteponti” road that we enter after Reggello. This road, surrounded by vineyards and cypress trees, allows me to experience the dynamic qualities of our Cayenne GTS on the wet, we are among the plains of the Arno Valley and the massif of Pratomagno and I could not really ask for a better day.
Unfortunately, my happiness is interrupted when we arrive at Pian di Sco; the church is being renovated and so we can not stop to for some pics. Anyway we advise you to stop for a visit, as we suggest you to do the same with the “Abbey of San Salvadore Soffena” in Castelfranco di Sopra that you can see with our Cayenne GTS. The Abbey was built in the eleventh century on the ruins of a castle of the same name of the Ubertini family.
We have a long way to go so we put behind us quickly even this piece of history heading towards to Loro Ciuffenna. Km after km we appreciate more and more the driving performance of this Cayenne GTS, the engine is always ready and makes you want to press on the accelerator, the powerful noise guaranteed by Sound symposer and the sports exhaust really thrills us. You would never expect from an SUV how much it really wants and attack the road. Unfortunately we are not on a track so is always good to respect the speed limits.
Nevertheless I am still satisfied by how much this car amaze the people at the side of the road, those who hear me expects a sports car and when they see this SUV are all very surprised. It can not be otherwise, we will discover in this itinerary how much all the qualities of this car highlighted by Leonardo are confirmed. Arrived at Loro Ciuffenna is the right time for refuelling and even a for snack, our journey will take us in fact far from the cities and in a total contact with nature.
Loro Ciuffenna is the point when we abandon the “Setteponti” to head towards the Casentino passing throung the “Trappola” and the road “Bottigliana”. Going up to Trappola the road became more and more narrow, leaving a glimpse of the magnificent view of the Valdarno on the one hand while on the other the view of the small village Trappola on the mountain where we’re headed.
A stop to visit the village of Trappola is strongly recommended. It ‘nice to walk the narrow streets that separate the houses, we rediscover the classic flavors of the countries in the Apennines during the autumn: the familiar smell of wood smoke, the yellow leaves on the ground and that pleasant silence that you can enjoy there.
To interrupt this idyllic silence is the sound of our Porsche roaring: it’s time for me to get back behind the wheel again. We expect a few km of dirt road, so we prepare our Cayenne GTS setting the “Extreme Off road” and disabling the electronic controls. Everything is ready!
It’s time to take the Via della Bottigliana that will lead to the Casentino arriving in the village of Talla. Who of you will have the opportunity to go down this road will understand immediately why we wanted to tell you about this route.
Here in Tuscany there’s not so much opportunities to be surrounded by nature as there, you can drive your car for several minutes surrounded by the Apennines classical trees colored in shades from yellow to red. We drive slowly appreciating the beautiful landscapes, stopping listening to the sounds of nature.
Take it easy, you are in paradise and will be difficult to abandon it. Again Cayenne GTS surprising if a few km ago I was holding a powerful, adrenalining, easily directional and cornering response car now I have a true off-road vehicle, I really feel unstoppable in the direction of the village of Talla.
Finally we arrived in the Casentino and we close this first part of the route heading towards Chiusi della Verna and in particular to the La Verna Sanctuary. Going up from the village of Rassina and going from Chitigliano we are forced to park our Cayenne GTS and get to this sacred place by foot.
Trust us, a visit to the Franciscan sanctuary of La Verna is really mandatory. We are immersed in the Casentino Forest Park. This forest, expertly maintained by the Franciscan Friars, welcomes us in an almost magical place.
I would not suggest to visit this sanctuary during the weekends. We walk into a place of peace and tranquility enjoying a fantastic view on the Casentino and visiting the various parts of the sanctuary, famous for being the place where San Francesco d’Assisi received the stigmata.
Started with the rain, we finish this first article with the sun and a beautiful sunset, ready to drive into the heart of Casentino in the next article.
By: Edoardo Mascalchi
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi, Marco Dellisanti