The Beautiful Valdarno Valley
for Art, Castles and Rich Landscapes
The Valdarno, Italy is
also known as the Arno Valley or the Upper Vald'Arno found in the
Arezzo province of Tuscany .
It is enclosed by
the mountains of the Pratomagno and the high Chianti Hills and is an
area rich in olive groves and vineyards. Among its most beautiful
landscapes is that of Balze, which was even painted by Leonardo da
Vinci. The Balze is a stuningly unusual site where pinnacles of soil
have been eroded by nature into curious towers and shapes atopped with
rocks and sometimes even tiny trees.
Le Balze, Volterra (Pisa,
Important Towns in the Valdarno
Populated since prehistoric times, the Valdarno saw important times
during the Middle Ages, an era in which many towns, fortifications and
castles were built, many of which can still be seen along the valley
today. Some of these are Cavriglia, Loro
Cuiffenna , Montevarchi and San
Giovanni Valdarno, Figline Valdarno, Terranuova Bracciolini,
Incisa in Val d'Arno and Reggello.
One of the most important market towns in the Valdarno is Montevarchi .
It is a meeting place for farmers and producers, shop keepers and
townsfolk where in the town square on a weekly basis on can buy free
range chickens, fruit and vegetables, rabbits, artichokes, olive oil,
cheese, salamis, chestnuts ... Visit this market every Thursday.
San Giovanni Valdarno
San Giovanni Valdarno was the birthplace of the painter Giovanni
Masaccio called Giovanni da San Giovanni. San Giovanni
Valdarno is now the chief industrial town of the Valdarno in
Italy. Take a trip to the old square where you will see the
Comunale ; Palazzo
d'Arnolfo , named after the architect
Arnolfo di Cambio who had designed it back in the Middle Ages. Its
facade is flecked with stone and Della Robbia coats of arms telling the
story of the building.
In front of it is the Romanesque Pieve of S.
Giovanni Battista , one of
the oldest churches in the town. Look out too for the
of S. Maria delle Grazie , a 15th century church that has
absorbed the old town gate, Porta
S. Lorenzo . Inside you can
visit the muesum whose small rooms house fine works by local artists,
Annunciation by Beato
by Beato Angelico
Authentic Italian Recipe from the Valdarno
Here is a local recipe from the area called Stufato all Sangiovannese.
Take out the following ingredients; beef shin, chopped onion, celery,
parsley, garlic, lemon peel, salt, pepper, nutmeg, beef bones, olive
oil, red wine and jam.
The secret of this dish is difficult to get right because it depends on
the amount and quality of meat used, the kind of pan (terracotta is
best) the mixing spoon (wood only) and how it is mixed. Finally, it
also depends on the hand that cooks it.
Add the meat, chopped onion, celery, garlic and lemon to the pan and
add a little olive oil. In a separate pan slowly boil the
meat bones with a little water. Stir the meat and vegetables, mix and
cook until the oil in the pan begins to color. Season and add enough
red wine to cover. Turn up the heat so that the liquid
evaporates. When it has reduced and turned brown, add a
little jam, but not too much so that the meat turns red. Ladle a little
of the broth over the meat so that it doesn't dry out. A quarter of an
hour before the stew is ready add a pinch of nutmeg. Simmer over a low
flame for about 4 hours.
See our page on Tuscany
recommending restaurants in the Valdarno. These restaurants have been
sanctioned by the Vetrina Toscana body as serving traditional food
using traditional ingredients of high quality.
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