The itinerary which we propose is a journey back in time through the traces of a past and present which persist in the art, culture and traditions of the villages which grew up along the ancient road that linked Arezzo to Fiesole: the Cassia Vetus.
In the 16th century, Leonardo da Vinci undertook this journey along the Pratomagno to study the course of the Arno, and the famous balze appeared to the artist like "deep ridges carved by the rivers". From Arezzo we take the Provincial Road No. 1, known as the "Setteponti" (or Seven Bridges Road) as far as Ponte Buriano, a 13th -century Romanesque bridge over the Arno.
A little further on we come to Castiglion Fibocchi, a village constructed like a castle guarding the road leading from Pratomagno to Casentino. Outside the village, along the road on the left we can stop to admire the small church of Santa Maria a Pezzano, now the cemetery chapel, housing in the interior a 14th -century fresco of the Arezzo school portraying the Annunciation.
We continue towards Loro Ciuffenna, with a stop at the Romanesque parish church of San Pietro a Gropina (12th -century), one of the oldest religious buildings in the Arezzo diocese. Particularly striking is the interior, divided into three aisles by columns with sculpted capitals, illustrating the mastery of the art of stone carving that has been handed down over the centuries. A pulpit decorated with scenes in bas-relief showing human and animal figures (a lion, an eagle and a deacon), supported on two twisted columns and two pilasters, is the sculptural masterpiece of the church.
From Gropina we proceed towards Loro Ciuffenna, a Medieval village that was previously an Etruscan settlement. To be visited, in the old town centre, the church of S. Maria Assunta with a triptych by Lorenzo di Bicci (15th-century), and the Venturino Venturi Museum, a tribute to the artist who was born here in 1918. For those who wish to take a different itinerary from Loro Ciuffenna, passing through the woods and the hills of Pratomagno, we suggest a visit to Poggio di Loro and Rocca Ricciarda, two entirely renovated villages boasting a highly evocative view over the entire Valdarno.
Continuing along the Setteponti, from Loro Ciuffenna follow the signs for Castelfranco di Sopra, one of the "new towns" founded in 1299 by the Florentines. The urban layout of the town, traditionally attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio, is particularly fascinating, laid out in a regular chessboard pattern and once girdled with walls towers and gates, only two of which remain. Worth visiting is the 18th -century Oratory of San Filippo Neri, who was born here in 1515.
Leaving Castelfranco di Sopra the itinerary continues towards Pian di Scò, with a stop at the Badia di San Salvatore at Soffena, a religious building constructed in the 14th century over a previous fortification, illustrating the presence of the Vallombrosian community in the Upper Valdarno. The interior houses precious frescoes by Liberato da Rieti, Bicci di Lorenzo and Giovanni di Ser Giovanni, known as Lo Scheggia (15th-century), the younger brother of Masaccio. Alongside the Badia is the monastery, the site of recent archaeological investigations which have brought to light Mediaeval and Renaissance tombs.
The itinerary ends in Pian di Scò, the last municipality of the province of Arezzo, which developed along the Resco river (hence the apparent origin of the place-name). In the old town centre stands the Romanesque parish church of Santa Maria, first mentioned in a document of 1008. The facade is adorned with blind arches and two single-light windows. The interior is divided into three aisles by columns with figured capitals. On the left wall we can see a fresco showing a Madonna and Child by Paolo Schiavo, dated to around 1400.