In our first article we reached this wonderful valley driving through Via Bottigliana arriving at the Sanctuary of La Verna. Today is finally the time to better discover the Casentino. We start from Chiusi Della Verna and we are heading to Bibbiena, a village with Etruscan origins which became famous for the Campaldino’s Battle, where the fight between Guelfi (Florence) and Ghibellini (Arezzo) ended with the first that conquered and plundered the city that belonged to the Ghibellini.
The next step is taking the SS71 “Umbro Casentinese Romagnola” from Bibbiena. Many of you certainly will never have heard about this important road connecting Viterbo (Lazio) with Ravenna (Emilia Romagna) but you will find interesting to know that before the construction of the A1 (the famous motorway connecting Milan and Naples) this was the preferred route from Rome to the southern Tuscany!
Curve after curve, we arrive at Badia Prataglia, definitely one of the best equipped tourist centers of the Casentino. The first thing that surprise of these places is the total immersion in the Casentino’s Forest Park, the big trees above our heads seem to observe us as we drive our Porsche Cayenne GTS and the village of Badia Prataglia amaze in the way it’s divided in small sets of houses into the forest.
Visiting this town is a must during a trip in Casentino, from here in fact starts many walking routes, both of natural interest (thanks to the Park and the Reserve Sassofratino) and more historical or religious (thanks to its proximity Verna and Camaldoli). So we have the opportunity to enjoy the driving pleasure but also to do some sports with excellent routes for trekking. Wonderful!
Time to go back in the car and heading for the more engaging route of our whole itinerary. We are heading to Camaldoli, we return back back a for few km of road in SS71 and then turn right. Casentino really offers a perfect mix of roads to test the performance of our car. The winding paths certainly will allow you to engage yourself in sports driving but the spectacular scenery will make you slow down to savor every detail.
This is the case of this few kilometers of road connecting the Santuario di Camaldoli with the Eremo di Camaldoli. You sense the feeling of abandon the ordinary while you slowly drive along the road to the Eremo. We are immersed in the woods, the tall trees cover the few rays of light of this cloudy day, a stream that slides next to the road form waterfalls and water games.
Arrived to the Eremo di Camaldoli unfortunately we are forced to abandon this place quickly surprised by a strong storm, just few shots and we head to Moggiona.
Here the path become again fun, our Cayenne eat up the road accompanied by the cracking sound of the exhaust thanks to the manual mode gearshift and the “Sport Plus” mode activated. Moggiona is our next arrival point where finally we allow ourselves a break for lunch. In many ways Moggiona reminds me the village of Trappola already seen in the previous article. Our break is cheered by the local people that allow us some shots from their terraces and also by the kind Serena that makes us entertained with a couple of darts challenges in her bar.
It’s time to go, today the crazy weather gives us a sunny afternoon after the big storm of the morning. We take this opportunity to address the path towards Poppi, we will meet there Federica, council member of Poppi for the tourism, which will lead us to the discovery of the famous Castle, giving also us the opportunity to pose the Porsche Cayenne GTS in front of it.
The village of Poppi is one of the most famous attractions of the Casentino. The roadto the village became very narrow, luckily the Surround View cameras allow me to move easily to reach the Castle’s Square. The amazing view and scenario let our photographic “mission” very easy making us very proud of our shots. The advice is obviously to stop and walk along the streets of the village and visit the castle.
We are talking about one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and its most famous monument is the Castle of the Conti Guidi. Inside you can also visit the Ecomuseo del Casentino, a good starting point to learn something about the Casentino territory. In the Castle of Poppi we are talking again about the Battle of Campaldino with a model that reconstructs the highlights. Climbing on top of the tower (being very careful at the times when the bell rings) you can admire a fantastic panorama.
After saying hello to Francesca we visit the Golf Club Casentino where we will finish this second part of the itinerary. The choice of finish in this place our route is simple. The Golf Club is located on a hill adjacent to the village of Poppi, this makes the place a natural terrace from where to admire the Castle.
The friendly President Luca Alterini gives us the unique opportunity to take pictures with the last moments of light of this day that we finish tired but happy. The Casentino is a special place that definitely deserves to be discovered slowly and carefully. In the next article you will find out the end of our journey.
By: Edoardo Mascalchi
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi, Marco Dellisanti