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Le Balze

From Cortona to the Balze del Valdarno, between wineries and unique landscapes

Natural wonders and extremely modern wineries to discover in the Arezzo area

Our first stop is the lovely Cortona, a town that earned international fame following Frances Mayes bestseller, Under the Tuscan Sun, published in 1998. The book inspired a film of the same name by Audrey Wells, who managed to convey to filmgoers the unique atmosphere of this corner of Tuscany.

This enchanting Arezzo-area town is exactly as it appears on the big screen: poetic, romantic, one-of-a-kind and immersed in an ambience of unique peace. It’s a place where time seems to hold no importance and beauty is everywhere.

In terms of history, it’s a must-see destination. Between the 8th and 7th century BCE, Cortona was an important Etruscan town, the evidence of which still remains here today.

AREZZO. Continue north to reach Arezzo, another important Etruscan city, as you’ll see in its large Poggio Sole necropolises, founded in the 6th century BCE. Don’t miss Piazza Vasari - also known as Piazza Grande - the Duomo with its magnificent frescoes by Piero della Francesca and the Basilica di San Domenico, where you’ll find a cross painted by the creator of mosaics, Cimabue.

PODERE DI POMAIO. At just 3km from here is Podere di Pomaio. A green and bio winery designed by architect Marisa Lo Cigno. The production space with its three buried sides was built according to the Etruscan method of cyclopean walls. In this space with its modern vocation that’s still rich in its relationship with the history and memory of the surrounding territory, everything has been designed to reduce the environmental impact as much as possible. In fact, the building uses geothermal energy both for air conditioning the tasting spaces and for controlling the temperature of the vats during fermentation.

IL BORRO. Head towards Loro Ciuffenna to reach Il Borro, a fairy-tale location where elegance, nature, history, authenticity, food and wine live together in absolute harmony. The winery, owned by the Ferragamo family and designed by architect Elio Lazzerini, follows a traditional layout so as to perfectly blend with the beautiful medieval town and with the ancient pre-existing buildings on the estate. Walking through the streets of the accurately restored medieval village is a step back in time where you can feel the stones whispering their stories.

TERRANUOVA BRACCIOLINI. From here, we suggest you continue your journey due north to Terranuova Bracciolini, a picturesque town hidden inside behind an ancient wall from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Balze - natural formations formed by centuries of erosion - that can be seen rising all the way to the small town of Persignano.

NATURE RESERVES. Finally, a must for all nature lovers, is a visit to the Valle dell’Inferno e Bandella Regional Nature Reserve and the Le Balze Nature Reserve. The latter covers more than 2,000 hectares in the municipalities of Pian di Scò, Loro Ciuffenna, Castelfranco di Sopra and Piantravigne.

This unique landscape in the Valdarno foothills of Pratomagno, characterised by valleys with steep slopes and unique rock and argillaceous formations, formed after the Pliocene-era lake that covered this entire area dried up millions of years ago. Taking this itinerary also means discovering some of the landscapes painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the background of his artworks. In fact this is the landscape that appears behind his extremely famous Mona Lisa.

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Wine trails
Terre di Arezzo wine trail
Cortona wine trail

Chianti Colli Aretini DOCG
Valdarno di Sopra DOC
Cortona DOC
Valdichiana DOC

Local products
Extra virgin olive oil from the Colli Aretini
Various legumes (Zolfini beans, fagiolo coco nano, eye beans, cece piccino)
Chianina Beef
Cold cuts (capocollo, finocchiona, prosciutto DOP Toscano, Tuscan salami, soprassata, tarese del Valdarno)