Charming Tuscany: let’s meet Loro Ciuffenna!

Have you ever been to Loro Ciuffenna? If not, you should! Why? Because it is a little mediaeval town, built around a beautiful single-arched Romanesque bridge over the gorges of a stream and surrounded by the mountains. Not to mention that it is officially one of the most charming villages in Italy, being part of the list "I Borghi più belli d'Italia".
Loro Ciuffenna [Photo Credits: ghiandol]
Loro Ciuffenna [Photo Credits: ghiandol]
Loro Ciuffenna stands between the Arno river and the hills just at the foot of Mount Pratomagno, at an elevation of 320 m. All around you can see the Balze, unusual rock formations of clay and sand up to a hundred metres high. The area is known as Valdarno Superiore, and is part of the Arezzo administration territory. The Etruscans founded the original village. The name Loro, derived from the Latin Laurus (bay tree), was used for the first time in 1050, while Ciuffenna is the name of the torrent that dominates the layout of the town, a name that is also of Etruscan origin. The name of the stream was added to the original name of the town in 1863.
A detail of Loro Ciuffenna [Photo Credits: ghiandol]
A detail of Loro Ciuffenna [Photo Credits: ghiandol]
The entrance to the heart of the village is through Porta dell’Orologio (clock tower), along the ancient bridge. At the end of the single axis road there is a second gate. The two doors are actually the two gates reaming of an old castle. Along the street you can visit the church of Santa Maria Assunta (formerly the chapel of the mediaeval castle) to admire a fine polyptych by Lorenzo Bicci (early XV century) and frescoes dating back to XIII-XIV centuries. While at the eastern edge of the town stands the Basilica of Nostra Signora, entirely frescoed with biblical scenes. Loro Ciuffenna peculiarity is its mountain Ciuffenna stream, running within a canyon carved into the rocks, and along which we can still see today the old mills that exploited its strength to produce chestnut flour (a traditional product of the area). Here you can also find the oldest functioning water mill in Tuscany, most likely built around 1100, on a cliff along the stream, in the historic center of the country.
Old mill [Photo Credits: Luigi Torreggiani]
Old mill [Photo Credits: Luigi Torreggiani]
The art lovers and the curious have here the opportunity to know the work of one of the most original Italian artists: the sculptor Venturino Venturi, an illustrious son of Loro Ciuffenna. Shortly after his death (2002) his home was opened to the public: the works are located in different environments and in particular in the Atelier, the original appearance of which has been preserved. Casa Venturi is also the home of the Documentation Centre for Italian Sculpture of the twentieth century. The Venturino Venturi Museum is instead placed on the ground floor of the Town Hall. On display are 92 works (sculptures and drawings).
The parish church of Gropina [Photo Credits: Pino Panzarella]
The parish church of Gropina [Photo Credits: Pino Panzarella]
Finally, 1 km from Loro Ciuffenna, there is the unique Pieve a Gropina, on a hill, along the ancient Via Cassia Vetus. This is not just a little country church! It’s in fact one of the oldest, best preserved Romanesque pieve in Tuscany, and is considered a masterpiece.
The parish church in Gropina - detail [Photo Credits: Roger Joseph]
The parish church in Gropina - detail [Photo Credits: Roger Joseph]
It has a rich and ancient history: during the restoration work in the 60s, the remains of a Longobard church, as well as a IV century BC temple were discovered beneath it. Most of all, however, the Pieve is famous for the wealth and variety of the images and symbols carved in its pillars. The church has three naves, with two rows of pillars and columns; each column bears a capital depicting a symbolic story. Post by Leila Firusbakht.