The Tuscan Tiber valley ( Valtiberina) presents itself to the curious visitor as a huge mosaic of different environments, offering a rich multiplicity ofshapes, colours and perfumes.
The Tuscan Tiber valley presents itself to the curious visitor as a huge mosaic of different environments, offering a rich multiplicity ofshapes, colours and perfumes. If we return to this frontier land frequently and in different periods of the year, we can also sample the changing reality caused by the passing of the seasons. The Upper Tiber Valley, the most eastern point of Tuscany wedged in between Romagna, Marche and Umbria; a border land and, therefore used to and influenced by these differences, but also the very Tuscan identity is reinforced and accentuated by these differences.. The regional limit doesn’t end along the crest of the Appenine mountains, which is normally the case, but it goes way beyond it, touching Montefeltro and even, past the boundary, it ‘floats’ surrounded by Marche land, an island belonging to the Tiber valley territory: the Cicognaia enclave. In this area there is a contact and contrast of different and numerous geological formations which, due to preceding geological dynamics, contribute to the formation in this extreme outpost of Tuscany, of a huge variety of forms which have decidedly influenced the life of mankind by determining the various agricultural and forestry activities.
The land surrounding Anghiari of river-lake origin, beckons us to discover how in ancient times there was a lake in the middle of the Appenines, today the only memory of this lake is the red clay which often causes problems when ploughing but which on clear winter days seems to be a vast ‘flowered’ mineral meadow. Between Anghiari and Pieve Santo Stefano, we can find ophiolite rocks, a geological joke of underwater magma origin.
These rocks provide different chromatic stimuli: in some places green and scaly like snakeskin, in others shiny like a metal, sometimes they are really dark with a formal crudeness which makes us forget the typical softness of the Tuscan countryside. The Monti Rognosi and Monti Serpentini of Pieve Santo Stefano give rise to terrain which is not particularly adapted to agriculture but nowadays they are a part of the protected areas of the province of Arezzo due to the presence of particular vegetation which have adapted themselves to the trying living conditions generated by these rocks. In the borough of Anghiari, they are familiar with working with metals as in past centuries there was a flourishing activity of craftsmen linked with the production of high quality firearms.
As always happens, the changing of the geological formations can also be read in the very old buildings; to create houses, towers or castles normally stone material was used from the surrounding rocks. In Pieve Santo Stefano you can find the stone called bianco alberese, from which, amongst others, soils which are often covered with grass or woodland derive.
Another world has created water courses over time in the Tiber Valley, depositing in the depressions starting from Pieve Santo Stefano ending under the hill of Monterchi, the 'treasure chest' of Piero Della Francesca's Madonna del Parto, precious earth for flourishing agriculture, thus forming the flood plains. The biggest, that of Sansepolcro, is bordered by the slow course of the Tiber, which as soon as it leaves the great reservoir of Montedoglio, recreates the river which gently winds along in the background of the Victory of Costantino over Massenzio, depicted in the frescoes by Piero della Francesca in the basilica of Saint Francis in Arezzo.
The flat countryside has adapted itself to the new demands of man and the ordered and continuous knitting of regular fields surrounded by vines married to the field maple, which is still visible here and there, has given way to wider fields, adapted to mechanised agriculture.
The 'artist's palette' of the Tiber valley is still rich in colours, even if the yellow of the sunflowers, which takes over the month of July, the green of the Kentucky tobacco and the other crops which are grown at rotation have replaced the crops of isatis tinctoria, a pigmented plant which gave us the colour blue, and the elegant plants for weaving. From the hill of Anghiari the view of the plain in the early hours of the summer mornings is fascinating: the weave of new colours give it life while the Lombardy Poplars continue to embellish it.
Sansepolcro and its bell towers emerge at the very bottom and remind us once again of those depicted by Piero della Francesca behind the shoulders St. Jerome in the painting kept in Venice, surrounded by mountainous areas which are less and less cultivated but richer in woodlands the higher you go. The mountains are completely different.
Thanks to the imposing movements of the earth's crust, that which millions of years ago was the bottom of a depression has risen upwards and now constitutes the grey and powerful banks of the marna, a sedimentary rock and sandstone formations of the Alpe della Luna of today, creating spectacular contrasts like the vertical 'steps' of the Ripa della Luna. The marna badlands, harsh and at times disturbing for their lack of vegetation, which emerge just before Badia Tedalda are contrasted up to Sestino with the velvety summer yellow of the cereal crops and pastures, punctuated by the reassuring silhouettes of the Chianina cows with their porcelain white coats.
The surrounding woods, rich in turkey oaks, a rustic oak, for centuries sanctuary for the wolf and spectacular in autumn, loosen their embrace, leaving room for the weave of the 'closed fields', each one rigorously divided by hedgerows.
Up until the last century, at the end of the summer, processions of animals and men left these areas, following the dusty tracks of the migration of herds, to arrive after a few days of walking at the pastures of the Maremma region: the villages only came back to life when they returned at the end of spring. These environments are fascinating but also difficult as not even the chestnut will grow here.
They are areas adapted above all to herdsmen or woodcutters yet, in this chalky earth, able hunters can find a very precious product: the white truffle.
Above Sestino, two enormous blocks of marine limestone constitute a surprisingly suggestive geological emergence: the Simone stone which from one side testifies the ancient history of the fortress city of the stone and from the other, together with the Simoncello mount in the Marche region, documents the age old movements of the earth's crust. Another geological formation is present in the Tiber Valley, the Macigno (boulder), a sedimentary rock which makes up the Tiber side of the Catenaia Alp. A gradual change in its constitution gave rise to the soil adapted to the cultivation of chestnut trees, making the territory of Caprese Michelangelo slightly 'richer'. The presence of the chestnut has in fact given forth better nutritional conditions, compared to those of other more meagre mountain areas of the Tiber valley, and the development of an articulated culture based exactly on this precious woodland product, which even today is bountifully harvested and famous for its exceptional quality.
If the geology of this territory creates differences, there are also communal and transversal natural elements. For example, in most places local enthusiasts know where to find different types of truffles and mushrooms, of which the local cuisine expertly takes advantage.
To end, there is also the poetry of an enchanting countryside, like that of the cold winter mornings when the tips of the beech trees are covered with the shining embroidering of crystalline ice, known as Rime frost, comparable for its elegance to the famous tombolo lace making of Sansepolcro.
Valtiberina: discover the area
Accommodations in the area
- Montepulciano (Siena)
51 km from Valtiberina
Immersed in the verdant countryside around the noble town of Montepulciano, that boasts ancient Etruscan origins, Le Caggiole Estate is perfectly located for exploring Tuscany's most prized treasures.Availability request
In a relaxing and cosy atmosphere uests are offered three comfortable, quiet double rooms with private bathrooms and two comfortable apartments for two persons and for small family groups.
- Siena (Siena)
65 km from Valtiberina
Agriturimo Marciano : an exlusive opportunity, two holidays at the place of only one. stay in the country and life downtown. Marciano is located near the walls of the Middle Age town of Siena.Availability request
Five confortable double rooms and a suite with a beautiful sight on the Siena Duomo
- Firenze (Florence)
71 km from Valtiberina
The charming Marignolle Relais & Charme, nestled the hills of Florence, is the ideal solution for those who want a place of excellence and relaxation and love peace and privacy without the amenities of a luxury hotel.Booking ONLINE
Marignolle Relais & Charme is especially appreciated by travelers looking for style and tradition by offering deluxe rooms or junior suites in a refined, with superior comforts and impeccable services that make this relais an excellence of Florence.
- Colle Val D'Elsa (Siena)
76 km from Valtiberina
The Relais Della Rovere is a charming hotel created from the conversion of an ancient Benedictine abbey and a papal villa of the Renaissance period.Booking ONLINE
Set in Colle Val d'Elsa, in the heart of the Chianti area, it is strategically located among Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Volterra.
- San Gimignano (Siena)
80 km from Valtiberina
In the vicinity of the medieval centre of San Gimignano, nestled in the rolling hills of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, Agriturismo La Lucciolaia is perfectly located for exploring Tuscany's most prized art towns.Availability request
This ancient farmhouse has been recently renovated and divided into eleven double rooms and two Suites, where the magic atmosphere of past times is perfectly blended with modern comforts.
- Colle Val D'Elsa (Siena)
81 km from Valtiberina
La Pieve, charming farmhouse located on the hills of Val d'Elsa, between Volterra and San Gimignano, along the Via Francigena, in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, with its luxuriant nature and rich history.Availability request
Framed by olive trees and a wood, it fosters a direct dialogue with nature in complete relaxation where they contemplate and enjoy the stillness in private and unique spaces.
- San Gimignano (Siena)
82 km from Valtiberina
Agriturismo Villa il Palagetto located in the vicinity of the medieval centre of San Gimignano, nestled in the rolling hills of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.Availability request
Provides comfortable accommodation in 6 double bedrooms and two Suites
- San Gimignano (Siena)
83 km from Valtiberina
La Fornace di Racciano is a lovely Bed&Breakfast a short distance from the historical centre of medieval San Gimignano. It consists of a typical Tuscan country house surrounded by a large flowery garden.Availability request
La Fornace di Racciano consists of seven comfortable rooms and four apartments, two of which are located in the ancient hamlet of Racciano.
- San Gimignano (Siena)
85 km from Valtiberina
Azienda Agricola Biologica Cesani is an organic farm nestled in the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, in the tiny country hamlet of Pancole, 6 km to the medieval town of San Gimignano.Availability request
Azienda Agricola Biologica Cesani is an organic farm nestled in the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, in the tiny country hamlet of Pancole, 6 km to the medieval town of San Gimignano.
- Fucecchio (Florence)
108 km from Valtiberina
Relais Hotel Vedute Florence surrounded by green countryside is located in a strategic position near Florence, Lucca, Pistoia, Pisa and SienaAvailability request
Our Wellness Center & Ayurvedic Thai Aquamor invites you to know Ayurvedic and Thai experience in Fucecchio Florence
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