The Local Area

This part of eastern Tuscany is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is a region of steep hills cloaked in beech, oak and sweet chestnut trees, mountain pastures, meadows and streams.

The many well-marked footpaths make it a perfect location for walkers and the many historic towns and monasteries will easily satisfy those in search of culture, art and architecture.

Caprese Michelangelo

A few kilometres away is Caprese Michelangelo, birthplace of the artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, painter of the Sistine Chapel. The house in which he was born, the Casa del Podesta, is now the Museo Michelangelo.

A few kilometres further on is Anghiari, a medieval walled town surrounded by fields of tobacco and famous as the site of the last great battle between the armies of Florence and Milan in 1440.
A little further afield, no more than an hour's drive away, are the historic Umbrian towns of Perugia, Assisi and Gubbio. The ancient Tuscan city of Arezzo, home of one of the world's greatest fresco cycles (by Piero della Francesca) is also within an hour's drive, and just a little further on is the famous hilltop town of Cortona.
Florence and Siena are within easy reach as day trips.

Sansepolcro flag waving

Sansepolcro, the largest town in the area, is renowned as the birthplace of Piero della Francesca and the 14th century Palazzo Comunale houses some of his most famous works. It is also the setting for the Palio della Balestra - a crossbow tournament between Sansepolcro and Gubbio that has been held on the second Sunday of September since the Renaissance. The world-famous Flag-Wavers (sbandieratori) of Sansepolcro also put on a show at this time.

Also nearby is the sanctuary of La Verna, built on a rocky outcrop and offering spectacular views of the mountain scenery. It was here that St Francis is said to have received the stigmata - the wounds of Christ - in 1224, and is now a monastic village and an important pilgrimage site.

Sanctuary of La Verna

Just to the north is the Casentino. A vast area of forest, green alpine meadows, streams, waterfalls and high breezy ridges with spectacular views. It is criss-crossed with well-marked trails that follow old mule tracks or paths between the famous monasteries of Camaldoli, La Verna and Badia Prataglia.
The Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi was created recently to protect the extensive wildlife of the area. As well as red deer, fallow deer, mountain sheep and wild boar, the Appenine wolf is known to roam these parts. Birds such as eagle-owls, kites, goshawks and, it is said, golden eagles, can be seen circling over the valleys.