The territory of Castel Focognano occupies the eastern side of the Pratomagno up to the Arno Valley, at the southern end of the Casentino. In addition to the historic center, located about 20 km from Chiusi della Verna, the town of Rassina is also part of the municipality, which bases much of its economy on industrial, artisanal and commercial activity. It is also near to the centers of Salutio and Carda, a charming mountain village from which begins the trekking paths that lead to the Pratomagno ridge.
In the heart of the municipality of Castel Focognano you can admire an ancient military camp conserving the remans of the 14th-century fortification and a palazzo used by the podestà, with their coats of arms decorating the façade.
A few metres away is the Ronda Tower, a small, recently restored structure with an octagonal base, and which are the last remains of the 11th-century castle (destroyed by bishop Tarlati in 1322). Now the site of the Centre for the Documentation of Rural Culture in the Casentino, which brings together objects and artefacts associated with the area’s agricultural-woodland-farming traditions, based on three research elements: the cultivation of forests and land, pastoralism and wool production.
Throughout the municipality, a few kilometres from the hamlet of Rassina, it’s really worth seeing the beautiful Romanesque Parish Church ofSant’Antonino a Socana, an ancient place of worship (which some believe is almost 2000 years old!), built with a splendid apse and an evocative cylindrical-shaped bell tower. Nearby, you’ll come across the traces ofthree civilizations: Etruscan, Roman and Early Christian. From the Etruscan period, excavations have brought to light a magnificent sacrificial altar and a temple’s staircase. The actual church could date back to the 12th century, even if the parish church is mentioned in a document from 1072 and the excavations have unearthed remains that prove the existence of a previous church from the 11th century. The cylindrical bell tower can be attributed to this period, decorated in pilaster strips made from slabs of sandstone.
There are also other attractions worthy of mention in the area of Castel Focognano, the Casentino. One is located in Salutio, the Parish Church of Sant’Eleuterio, also built in the Romanesque style with Byzantine influences and Baroque elements. The mountain village of Carda also merits a visit, dominated by the Church of Sante Flora e Lucilla, which preserves a precious polyptych by Mariotto di Cristofano (1425) and a canvas painting by Pontenani.
In autumn, the hamlet of Carda hosts the traditional Chestnut Festival. For the occasion, food stands offer various local specialties, such as polenta with ricotta, baldino (also known as castagnaccio), pancakes and other desserts made with chestnut flour. There are also events involving folk songs and market stalls.
Typical dishes and products
In addition to products made with chestnut flour from Pratomagno and Casentino, Castel Focognano boasts a varied offering of specialties and typical recipes. Prosciutto del Casentino, for example, with its intense and rich aroma, is perfect when paired with fresh bread and a good red wine.
If you are looking for something sweet, however, you can taste ricciolina, a delicacy with a circular shape, covered with almonds and candied fruit. It's a traditional dessert of the Easter period, but it can be found all year round in the area.