Chiusi della Verna, located in the charming Arno and Tiber river valleys, is positioned in the heart of the Casentinesi Forest National Park. Visible from a distance, the area’s highlight is the San Francesco alla Verna Sanctuary, a structure that rises from the southern flank of Monte Penna. The area captures the intensity of Franciscan spiritual devotion, an aspect that's enhanced by its particularly dramatic location.
Since medieval times, Chiusi della Verna has been of considerable importance for religious devotees: this area was once the key junction of the old via Romea, a much-traveled path for Germanic pilgrims who favored this trail to the western via Francigena. The road was heavily trodden by travellers who came from Germany, Scandinavian, Baltic, and Slavic areas, and even from England.
As part of this constant passage of faith, it's not surprising that it's the birthplace of the Sanctuary of San Francesco, a place of faith made particularly engaging by the silver forest of beech trees that surrounds the historic structures.
The small church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the first building to be built on Monte Sacro, preserves beautiful Della Robbia terracotta inside. In the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, you can find what are considered real masterpieces by Andrea Della Robbia: The Annunciation and the Incarnation.
The Franciscan journey continues with two other stages that are of great importance for believers: the first is the Sasso Spicco, where the saint used to pray; the second is the Corridor and the Chapel of the Stigmata, built on the place where St Francis received ‘the last seal’ from Christ in 1224.
TheCasentino is a land that's rich in chestnut, beech, oak and fir woods. These are also the trees that populate the large and beautiful National Park of the Casentinese Forests, one of the best places to admire the autumn foliage when there's a true spectacle of leaves that are tinged with shades of red, yellow, and orange.
In this area, there are many layers of spirituality. In Camaldoli, for example you can visit the Monastery, a monastic complex also known as Fontebuona, and the Hermitage, founded by San Romualdo in the 11th century.
Chiusi della Verna is also known for competing with the adjacent Caprese Michelangelo as the birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Some studies show that the Renaissance artist was born in Chiusi during the period in which his father was mayor of the town.
The best time to visit the small medieval village of Chiusi della Verna is in summer, when it's almost impossible not to be carried away by the sweet notes of the International Organ Music Festival, which takes place in the Basilica of the Sanctuary.
Additionally, the truffle festival is held in august, dedicated to the scorzone truffle, collected in the woods of the Casentino and nearby Valtiberina.
Typical dishes and products
Among the traditional Chiusina dishes, you can find potato tortelli, cooked on the grill. Orscottiglia, a stew made of various meats including rabbit, guinea fowl, lamb, pork and veal. Rimbocchi bread is also famous, paired with many local pecorino cheeses, raviggiolo and blue cheeses. Finally, the meal ends with lattaiolo, a milk-based dessert that's baked in the oven, typical of mountain areas.