Siena walking tours: The ring route of San Galgano and A look out on Valdorcia.

chesi_collina

Feeling oneself at the center of the Universe, living the history.
– 1 day walking – easy

Starting from San Galgano, and arriving in San Galgano. this route will trace, on nice and easy dirt roads, a path into history from the beautiful Abbacy of San Galgano to the town of Chiusdino, whose medieval village center is still perfectly intact.

After visiting the birthplace of Galgano Guidotti, you’ll return via the other road to the Cistercense Abbacy and the chapel of Montesiepi, where the famous sword in the stone is to be found.

Here you will also be able to see the remains of the frescos by Pietro Lorenzetti..

Why should one take a 17 Km walk?

In order to open ones mind and to leave space to the imagination that the history and legend of these places will take you.

The mysticism of the Abbacy will fascinate, its immense spaces will make you feel small but also part of the universe that you will perceive in these enchanted places. You can almost hear the sound of horse hooves on the trails, the echo of battles long past, of magic swords.

One more thing.

Bring your children with you.
The excursion is easy and the history of the sword in the stone will win them over.

chesi_bosco

Siena: A look out on Valdorcia. From La Foce to the forest of the Rocconi.

Taking the old farm road of the Foce, where the famous villa of Iris Origo is, you can reach with this one day medium difficulty trekking the nature reserve of Pietraporciana and the beautiful medieval “borgo” of Castiglioncello sul Trinoro which dominates the Park of the Val’Dorcia.

Why should one take a 13 KM. walk?

In order to learn about the variety of the vegetation which is knowingly illustrated at the learning arboretum of recent construction as well as for the incredible panoramas that much of the route offers.

Courtesy of APT Siena Tourist Office

The territory of Murlo – The ring route of Monteriggioni – In the forest of the Berignone.

toscana_2_steinke

Siena: Creek crossings and unexpected meetings in the land of the Etruscans.

After visiting the medieval “borgo” of Murlo the half day easy route will take you to the old village of the mine of Murlo, abandoned since the end of the second world war.

It will then go back up to the Pieve at Carli, a gracious and isolated country church.

From there it will go to the farm called “Vignali”, descend to the easy creek crossing over the Crevole torrent and finally back to Murlo.

Why should one take a 7 KM. walk?

Because nature here is still wild and the excursion will give you a sense of adventure and history.

There is also a high probability that you will encounter some of the zones inhabitants, wild boar and deer.

photo © Silvia Fabbri
photo © Silvia Fabbri

Siena: In the shadow of the “Giants”.
The ring route of Monteriggioni.

The one day, easy route will take you from Monteriggioni, the famous medieval “borgo”, whose protective town walls are mentioned by Dante in his Divine Comedy, to the Abbadia Isola. The stupendous 11th century Abbacy and the remains of the fortifications.

The second part of the walk will take you across the forested slopes of Monte Maggio, a hilly massif cloaked with thick woods of holm-oak.

Why should one take a 12 KM. walk?

Because the “giants”, a name that Dante gave the guard towers of the walls of Monteriggioni, are surrounded by beautiful woods where only a few farms exist to help you keep your orientation.

Some advice.

Don’t go into the woods of Monte Maggio alone…it’s not the jungle but the presence of an expert guide will allow you to enjoy the day more fully.

photo © Silvia Fabbri
photo © Silvia Fabbri

Siena: Losing oneself in nature between Casole d’Elsa and Volterra.
In the forest of the Berignone.

A one day route of average difficulty and great naturalistic and historic interest, starts at the Dispensa di Tatti, and goes in an area secluded and rarely frequented. On the itinerary is a visit to the Castle of the Bishops whose ruins remain in panoramic solitude.

There is a real possibility of seeing wild game such as mouflon, wild boar and deer.

Why should one take a 15 KM. walk?
To loose oneself in nature, to feel distant from “civilization”, in the company of the local inhabitants, the animals.

Where to stay in Monteriggioni?

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Monteriggioni, check them out and make a reservation here.

The ring route of Monte Oliveto – From the grottos of Belverde to the medieval Cetona.

photo © Silvia Fabbri
photo © Silvia Fabbri

Siena: Leaving worldly matters behind. The ring route of Monte Oliveto.

The half day, easy route leaves from the “borgo” of Chiusure which conserves intact pieces of its fortifications, picturesque lanes and the walls of the castle.

A panoramic descent in the middle of the “calanche”, the eroded formations that characterize the crete of Siena, will take you to the Abbacy of Monte Oliveto.

An easy return to Chiusure after an in-depth visit to the stupendous Benedictine complex.

Why should one take a 4 KM. walk?

To experience the asperity and severity of this territory which are an integral part of the fascination of the monastic complex. Here, even a visitor can perceive the “suspension” and detachment from everyday life.

For the visit of the Abbacy and the majestic frescos of Sodoma and Signorelli.

One more thing:

studying the frescos that decorate the entire wall space of the chiostro, apart from the appreciating the artistic value, you’ll notice a few “disconcerting” details due to reciprocal spite between the monks and the artist Sodoma.

Some advice.

Take this excursion in Spring or the Fall.

photo © Silvia Fabbri
photo © Silvia Fabbri

Siena: The travel of man in time. From the grottos of Belverde to the medieval Cetona.

This half day, easy route, that starts from Parco del Biancheto, is of naturalistic and archeological interest. From the slopes of Mount Cetona, large rocky cliffs covered with a luxuriant vegetation, you will find the grottos which were home to the dwellers of per-historic time.

Via marked trails it will be possible to visit some of them.

Then, continuing on foot down a farm road, you will come to the medieval village of Cetona.

Why take a 5 KM. walk?

Take your children, and while you’re in the grottos, imagine how life must have been in per-historic time. Then, visit Cetona, and witness yet another stage along the time line of man’s evolution.
Courtesy of APT Siena Tourist Office

The ring route of Poggibonsi. – Castelvecchio di San Gimignano.

poggibonsi

Siena: Castles, fortresses and fountains of fables in the Val d’Elsa. The ring route of Poggibonsi.

This half day, easy route that starts from and arrives in Poggibonsi will take you to important monuments such as the Fortress of the Imperial Poggio, inside of which you may also see the archeological dig of the Poggio Bonizio of the high medieval period. There is also the Fountain of the Fairies, the Basilica of San Lucchese and the Castle of Badia.

You’ll notice the variety of the environments that you will walk through and the beautiful panoramas that look out on the Chianti, the Val d’Elsa, stretching to Monte Amiata and the mountains of the Casentino.

Why take a 5 KM. walk?

Because it’s not difficult, nor is it tiring and in only 5 short kilometers you can see things that are of great artistic/historic and naturalistic interest.

castelvecchio

Siena: Beyond the towers, in the countryside of San Gimignano.
Castelvecchio di San Gimignano.

This half day, easy route that starts from and arrives in San Donato, will take you through the historically rich countryside around San Gimignano to a medieval “borgo” called Castelvecchio, for years object of strife between San Gimignano and Volterra.

This route offers many panoramic views of other small “borgos” such as San Donato and Montauto.

Why take a 9 KM. walk?

Because everyone knows San Gimignano but the countryside around it is hardly ever visited. Thanks to this fact, its wildness and historic treasures are still intact.
Courtesy of APT Siena Tourist Office

Siena province natural preserves

PIETRAPORCIANA – Chianciano Terme

Communes: Chianciano Terme and Sarteano.Calcareous rocks and an unusually low beech-wood characterise this reserve which was probably a sacred place in remote times, as borne out by the beeches themselves which, as a symbol of majesty and solemnity, it was forbidden to fell. Area: 341 Hectares

BOSCO DI SANT’AGNESE  – Castellina in Chianti

On the small Sant’Agnese Wood Reserve, consisting chiefly of cypresses alternated with cultivated land, you will also find the Parish Church of Sant’Agnese, a fortified construction which in the 11th century belonged to the Sienese but was subsequently passed over to their Florentine rivals. Area: 271 Hectares

cappelli_paesaggio

ALTO MERSE (SISTEMA DELLE RISERVE DEL FARMA MERSE) – Chiusdino

Communes: Chiusdino, Monticiano and Sovicille.This zone, evocative for the continuity and extent of its woodlands, also includes ancient villages such as Brenna, Orgia, Torri, Stigliano, Spannocchia and Pentolina, as well as the mediaeval fortifications of Montarrenti, Frosini and Castiglion che dio sol sa (Castle that only god knows).Area: 2000 Hectares

LA PIETRA (SISTEMA DELLE RISERVE DEL FARMA MERSE) – Chiusdino

Communes: Chiusdino and Roccastrada (GR).Almost totally woodland with very few inhabited areas, the Reserve lies between the Farma and Farmulla torrents. Its name refers to the rocky spur on the Grosseto side which separates the two waterways.Area: 530 Hectares

LAGO DI MONTEPULCIANO – Montepulciano

With the lake of Chiusi, the lake of Montepulciano is all that remains of the vast marshland that occupied much of Val di Chiana up to the age of the Medici. The long works of reclamation had begun with the Etruscans.Area: 470 Hectares

FARMA (SISTEMA DELLE RISERVE DEL FARMA MERSE) – Monticiano

Communes: Monticiano and Roccastrada (GR).With its extraordinary vegetation and rare animal species the Reserve can boast naturalistic aspects that are unique in the Province of Siena and among the most interesting in Italy.Area: 1561 Hectares

BASSO MERSE (SISTEMA DELLE RISERVE DEL FARMA MERSE) – Murlo

Communes: Murlo, Monticiano and Civitella Paganico (GR).The extremely gentle landscape features an alternation of hillocks and broad stretches of flatland. The historical-cultural importance of the zone dates to the 12th century when Murlo Castle itself was the seat of the fief of the Archbishop of Siena. Area: 1743 Hectares

PIGELLETO – Piancastagnaio

The Pigelleto Reserve includes protected plant species such as the silver fir (known as pigello in local parlance) documented in certain of Titus Livius’ writings. During the 12th – 14th centuries, silver fir was used in building the Duomo of Orvieto and the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laretano in Rome.Area: 862 Hectares

LUCCIOLA BELLA  – Pienza

Communes: Castiglion d’Orcia, Pienza and Radicofani.The Reserve includes the most characteristic stretches of this zone. From the abandoned smallholding for which the reserve is named there is in fact a splendid view over Val D’Orcia: a 360° panorama of barren clay countryside, erosion furrows and ancient villages, as far as Mounts Cetona and Amiata.Area: 1148 Hectares

CORNATE E FOSINI – Radicondoli

Communes: Radicondoli and Montieri (GR).Rich in meadows, garrigues and rocky cliff faces (a true paradise for several rare birds of prey species that nest here) the reserve also includes Fosini Castle which belonged in the 12th century to the bishop of Volterra and in the 14th passed on to the Pannocchieschi family, owners of the nearby Elci Castle.

CASTELVECCHIO – San Gimignano

The Reserve protects heterogeneous plant species and also includes the evocative ruins of Castelvecchio Castle, an important mediaeval fortress which was probably built in the Longobard period. Area: 734 Hectares

Where to stay in Siena

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Siena, check them out and make a reservation here.

Isola d’Elba – Elba Island

isola d’elba patresi lighthouse at punta polveraia
isola d’elba patresi lighthouse at punta polveraia

An enchanting isle with a world of culture and history

Natural beauty, historical events, food & wine. When one examines any corner of Italy, it’s a mix of these elements which determines the location’s ability to attract tourists. Nevertheless, some places have a greater concentration of these attractions, offering travelers an endless series of temptations. This is the case of Elba island

Stretching out off the coast of Tuscany, throughout its long history it has always been seen as a place of extraordinary importance. Just think that when the city of Rome had yet to be founded, Elba Island was already the heart of numerous commercial trades among the people who inhabited the shores of the Mediterranean. Mining and ironworks were a particularly flourishing trade, as the island’s subsoil was rich in ferrous minerals.

elba2

This early industrial foundry was established by the Etruscans. As early as the 8th Century BC, they were producing handmade items that were exported to what they then considered to be the edges of the earth (that is, throughout the Mediterranean area). Just to give you an idea of how widespread the iron trade was on the island, Aristotle tells us that the Greek sailors traveling through that area of the sea nicknamed it ethalia (meaning “spark”) because of the sparks and flames that leapt out of the furnaces used to smelt the precious metal, furnaces that were lit day and night along the steep shores.

The Romans, instead, introduced winegrowing and Isola d’Elba – the iron capital – then became “the island of fine wine”, with a constant flow of ships loaded with amphorae sailing back and forth between the island and the mainland. After the Middle Ages and the dominion of the Republic of Pisa, Elba went under the control of the Medici family of Florence. Cosimo I ordered the fortified city of Portoferraio to be built following strict principles of military architecture yet with the aim of harmonizing the constructions with the natural surroundings, particularly the sea. The new citadel was renamed Cosmopoli to emphasize how the architects wished to create the cradle of civilization and a fine example of balance.

Naturally, moving on in our brief look back at the history of Elba, we must name the most famous person to have resided there: French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. In ten months’ time, Napoleon made a series of reforms on the island by ordering the construction of architectural works such as roads, reorganizing mining activities and increasing wine production. When he returned to France to meet his fate, Napoleon left behind two homes on the island, which are now museums.

However, its long history is only one of the many captivating aspects of Elba island. Alongside this are its natural beauties, its breathtaking seaside and its highly suggestive mountainous terrain. As is true on any island, looking beyond canonical itineraries, what can be clearly seen on Elba is the struggle and effort that have been made to find sustenance in the land and sea while resisting isolation and adversity.

As could easily be expected, when it comes to the local cuisine, seafood reigns supreme. This is a style of cooking made with a few, simple ingredients, such as stoccafisso alla riese, a traditional dish made with salted anchovies, onions, tomato, basil, parsley, green bell pepper, black olives, pine nuts and capers, and dressed in oil, hot pepper and salt. A triumph of Mediterranean cooking, one might say.

Elba’s positioning off the coast of Tuscany has naturally established a connection between the cultural traditions of that area of the mainland and the island. Cacciucco is a fish soup which finds a home on both shores, as do other great classics of marinara cooking, such as boiled octopus and stuffed sardines.

As for wine, today we’re far from the days of Napoleonic glory, and many of the former vineyards are now urban areas, as the island is at times rather crowded. Nevertheless, Elba has maintained its tradition of enological quality, as can be seen in its DOC wines Elba Bianco, Elba Rosso, Rosato, Ansonica, Moscato and Aleatico.

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How to get there

Go by ferry — taking your car, as it a must to explore the entire island. The ships start from Piombino. Bring a rental car with you on the Ferry if you are coming via air, as the island is fairly large and mass transit (don’t think I saw any???) won’t get you to all the old hilltop towns or up the winding roads.

To see and to do…

Napoleon was banished to the island and both of his homes (summer & winter) are available to tour. You can hike, bicycle, swim or walk around the plaza at night with the locals. Incredible beauty – many, many small towns set on hilltops. Many castles. Flowers galore and the interior is full of old, little viewed churches.

Napoleon’s homes, bike, go to any one of 10 -12 beaches, drink some local wine, hike, visit as many old castles, churches as you can. Takes about 3 days to see the island and that still leaves many areas untouched. In the summer Elba becomes a day-tripper’s nightmare with people from the mainland. Visit in late May – June – even if it is slightly cooler at night.

Pictures courtesy of Agenzia per il Turismo dell’Arcipelago Tocano and © Silvia Fabbri

Where to stay in Elba Island

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Author: Davide Bernieri
Courtesy of sanpellegrino.com

Arezzo

Arezzo – Photo © Chiara Gandolfi
Arezzo – Photo © Chiara Gandolfi

The ancient Arezzo, situated in the north-eastern part of Etruria proper on the hills overlooking the Clanis valley, and held by some sources to have been one of the twelve major cities known as lucumonie, was considered by Strabone as the most inland of the Etruscan cities.

Its position made it a natural center for the agricultural population scattered over the fertile Valdichiana, and as an organized settlement it may have developed as an outpost of Chiusi at the time of the greatest Etruscan expansion northwards (sixth century BC).

The city grew up on a low upland set between the hills of San Pietro and San Donato, at the center of the obligatory routes towards the north and east (Emilia Romagna) and towards the south (Lazio and Umbria).

There is relatively little archaeological data relating to this city in the archaic and late-archaic period.

We can assume that the urban nucleus developed between the end of the sixth and the beginning of the fifth century BC.

Effectively, within the city there are numerous important sanctuaries which must have been worthy to house, among other things, famous bronzes such as the Chimera, and which were adorned with terracottas of great aesthetic value as a result of the presence of an acclaimed local coroplastic school (Piazza S. Jacopo; Via Roma).

Nor is there any shortage of small bronzes, also produced by Arezzo workshops (archaic series and votive collections of the Fonte Veneziana), which possibly used the metal quarried in the mines of the nearby Monti Rognosi.

Corresponding to the urban area was the spacious necropolis of Poggio del Sole, also set up in the sixth century BC and used in subsequent periods up to the Roman age.

The sources however begin to refer to Arezzo in an homogenous manner starting from the sixth century BC.

La Chimera – Photo © J. C. Cuesta http://flickr.com/photos/juancarloscuesta/
La Chimera – Photo © J. C. Cuesta
http://flickr.com/photos/juancarloscuesta/

In this period the city took on a precise urban layout. It undoubtedly possessed a ring of walls made of large blocks of stone, some stretches of which have come to light in recent excavations (Piazzetta S. Niccolo’).

This ring marked out a relatively small perimeter, a boundary later surpassed by the construction of several buildings beyond the walls (the sanctuary della Catona and the constructions of Piazza S. Francesco).

Arezzo Antique market – Photo © Tpkadesign
Arezzo Antique market – Photo © Tpkadesign

At the same time the boundaries of the agricultural district subject to the direct influence of the city also had to be defined.

This territory must have extended southwards over the Valdichiana as far as what is now Sinalunga, northwards as far as Casentino, westwards to the peak of Pratomagno, descending as far as San Giovanni, and eastwards through the Valtiberina.

In parallel, there was a great expansion of building within the city itself, witnessed not only by the presence of numerous terracottas, both architectural (S. Croce; Via Roma; Catona) and votive (Societa’ Operaia votive collection), but also by the templar constructions of Viale Buozzi and by the ceramic finds of both local production (black-painted) and imported.

Visit Arezzo in one day… >>>

Where to stay in Arezzo

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Arezzo, check them out and make a reservation here.

Visit Arezzo in one day

Arezzo – Photo © Chiara Gandolfi
Arezzo – Photo © Chiara Gandolfi

AREZZO. We can glimpse Arezzo on arriving in the evening, seeing it in greater detail on the following day.

Arezzo was an Etruscan city but in the 4th century BC prudently allied with Rome, avoiding the destruction of its fellow-cities.

It enjoyed a considerable artistic lowering during the turbulent Middle Ages and during the Renaissance.

Among others, Francesco Petrarca and Giorgio Vasari were born here.

The first thing to see is the attractive but oddly shaped Piazza Grande with monuments of various periods: the picturesque little palace of the Fraternita dei Laici, Palazzo Colton with its battlemented turret, the high tower of Palazzo Lappoli, the fine apse and galleries of the Pieve (parish church) of Santa Maria (11th century, altered in the 13th century).

From the apse one arrives at the marvelous Romanesque facade, whose portico is surmounted by three orders of loggias of different sizes. The central porch has a fine sculptured frieze of the Months: inside, among many other works of art, an Altarpiece by Pietro Lorenzetti (1320) on High Altar. Along Corso Italia one reaches Palazzo del Preform, with its stone coats-of-arms and then the simple Casa del Petrarca (Petrarch’s house) and the Cathedral, a noble mass of dark stone in Gothic-Romanesque style, begun in 1278: in the interior the magnificent soaring windows by Guglielmo di Marcillat (14th cent.) and the monumental Tomb of Bishop Tarlati (1330).

Arezzo Antique market – Photo © Tpkadesign
Arezzo Antique market – Photo © Tpkadesign

After a look at the 14th century Palazzo Comunale we arrive at the neighbour ing Church of San Domenico (1275) with remarkable frescoes by Spinello Aretino. From this point one can easily reach the Casa del Vasari (Vasari’s house) in Via XX Settembre, frescoed by the artist who was its owner. On the corner of Via San Lorentino and Via Garibaldi are the Museum and Picture Gallery with collections of majolica and paintings, among which the important St. Francis by Margaritone d’Arezzo, one of the first signed works in Italian painting, a Madonna and Saintsby Luca Signorelli and the powerful Ascent to Calvary by Rosso Fiorentino. Via Cavour is close at hand and this takes us to San Francesco, a basilica of severe Franciscan form (1322), famous throughout the world for the cycle inspired by the Legend of the Cross painted there by Piero della Francesco (1452-1466) (See: The Ten Capitals of Italian Painting).

Going from Corso Italia through Via Crispi we arrive at the Roman Amphitheatre, near which there is an Archaeological Museum, with Etruscan and Roman pottery and fine Etruscan bronzes. Now going along Viale Mecenate, one can reach the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (1.5 km.-1 mi.) with its charming Portal by Benedetto da Maiano.

The afternoon should be devoted to a trip to Borgo Sansepolcro (38 km. – 23 3/4 mi.) to complete ones acquaintance with Piero della Francesco (who was born here) with two important paintings: the Madonna della Misericordia and the impressive Resurrection in the little Municipal Picture Gallery. Leaving Arezzo, one climbs to the Face di Scopetone (526 m.-1725 ft.); there is a fine view and an even better one of the Upper Tiber Valley, before beginning the descent to Sansepolcro where one can eat before returning to Arezzo for the night.

Where to stay in Arezzo

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Arezzo, check them out and make a reservation here.

more on Arezzo… >>>

Arezzo – The Etruscans

Girasoli ad Arezzo – Photo © Lylla Lausanne
Girasoli ad Arezzo – Photo © Lylla Lausanne

The ancient Arezzo, situated in the north-eastern part of Etruria proper on the hills overlooking the Clanis valley, and held by some sources to have been one of the twelve major cities known as lucumonie, was considered by Strabone as the most inland of the Etruscan cities.

Its position made it a natural center for the agricultural population scattered over the fertile Valdichiana, and as an organized settlement it may have developed as an outpost of Chiusi at the time of the greatest Etruscan expansion northwards (sixth century BC).

The city grew up on a low upland set between the hills of San Pietro and San Donato, at the center of the obligatory routes towards the north and east (Emilia Romagna) and towards the south (Lazio and Umbria).

There is relatively little archaeological data relating to this city in the archaic and late-archaic period. We can assume that the urban nucleus developed between the end of the sixth and the beginning of the fifth century BC.

arezzo_etruschi_1

The sources however begin to refer to Arezzo in an homogenous manner starting from the sixth century BC.

Effectively, within the city there are numerous important sanctuaries which must have been worthy to house, among other things, famous bronzes such as the Chimera, and which were adorned with terracottas of great aesthetic value as a result of the presence of an acclaimed local coroplastic school (Piazza S. Jacopo; Via Roma).

Nor is there any shortage of small bronzes, also produced by Arezzo workshops (archaic series and votive collections of the Fonte Veneziana), which possibly used the metal quarried in the mines of the nearby Monti Rognosi.

Corresponding to the urban area was the spacious necropolis of Poggio del Sole, also set up in the sixth century BC and used in subsequent periods up to the Roman age.

In this period the city took on a precise urban layout. It undoubtedly possessed a ring of walls made of large blocks of stone, some stretches of which have come to light in recent excavations (Piazzetta S. Niccolo’).

This ring marked out a relatively small perimeter, a boundary later surpassed by the construction of several buildings beyond the walls (the sanctuary della Catona and the constructions of Piazza S. Francesco).

arezzo_etruschi_2

At the same time the boundaries of the agricultural district subject to the direct influence of the city also had to be defined.

This territory must have extended southwards over the Valdichiana as far as what is now Sinalunga, northwards as far as Casentino, westwards to the peak of Pratomagno, descending as far as San Giovanni, and eastwards through the Valtiberina.

In parallel, there was a great expansion of building within the city itself, witnessed not only by the presence of numerous terracottas, both architectural (S. Croce; Via Roma; Catona) and votive (Societa’ Operaia votive collection), but also by the templar constructions of Viale Buozzi and by the ceramic finds of both local production (black-painted) and imported.

arezzo_etruschi_3

In the third century Arezzo also coined its own money for a brief time (series wheel/amphora; wheel/crater). In this period the city was characterized not only as a major agricultural center (we would recall the famous “far clusinum” spelt), but also as an industrial and commercial center of great importance (production of ceramics and metal working, trade with nearby cities such as Volterra). This fact explains the recurrent disturbances of a social character recorded by the sources (360 BC; 302 BC Livio, 3.5) and the existence in the city of a strong and restless urban populace.

Despite the varied political and social vicissitudes (relations with Rome and wars against the Gauls, Punic Wars), Arezzo managed to maintain a remarkable economic prosperity throughout the Hellenistic age. Among the monumental complexes which arose in this period, in the area immediately outside the town we should mention the impressive sanctuary of S. Cornelio-Castelsecco, possibly constructed in the second century BC, which was later to be endowed with a magnificent layout through the theatre-temple combination which recalls the architectural models of the Lazio sanctuaries.

As is well known, at the beginning of the third century BC all the inland cities of northern Etruria were forced to surrender to the Romans, and Arezzo too entered within the orbit of Rome.

Where to stay in Arezzo

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Arezzo, check them out and make a reservation here.

Arezzo Sbandieratori

arezzo_Schermaglia1

“Just a glance and their colors and mastery mesmerize you.

Just a glance and you can see the sign of an ancient tradition of chivalry.

In the whirl of flags time stops in the square and the battle of Campaldino lives again.

They are the tradition and the appearance that involve those who have recent and different olden times too.

And so it was all around the world, anytime the sky got colored and scraped by the rustle of their flags.

Success was widespread and enthusiastic each time, since their performance goes beyond sheer folklore.

The flag-wavers are the icon of the city. A city whose men ennobled a hundred-year long history.

The emblem of Arezzo, standing out on the banner; the virtuosity in not only the throwing and vaulting of the flags is the most beautiful embassy that the city of the “Greats” could ever have.

arezzo_sbandieratori_1

They’re this privilege: the FLAG-WAVERS.”

Fair Play Ambassadors July 12, 2002

The Group of Flag-wavers is an independent organization created as representative of the “Giostra del Saracino”, a bi-annual medieval joust the group contributes to. Some standard bearers, with the colors of the Family Knights and the Quarters, clever at “handling flags”, took part in the cortege of ancient jousts in the Middle Ages. Jousts were disputed throughout a long period, as documented in many medieval texts, and a modern version of the event originated at the beginning of last century, as an evidence of the Aretine love for historical customs and roots.

In 1960, on the occasion of an “Italian happening” in Liverpool (UK), the local tourist board sent a delegation of the Saracen joust chosen among the flag-wavers of the four quarters. The success they achieved was a decisive factor for the institution of an independent group of flag-wavers oriented to the promotion of the historical and folk traditions of the territory

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New costumes were sewed drawing inspiration from Piero della Francesca’s paintings and using the colors and heraldry of the Aretine districts. Unlike many imitations, the Group mirrors the authentic history and tradition of Arezzo, while the vast repertoire of exercises, widened and improved in time, has reached a rare level of accuracy.

The striking choreographies of the 60’s resulted from strict historical researches on texts of the 16th century: Vittorio Dini, first technical manager of the group, and his successor Pasquale Livi, current supervisor, conceived new figures to exalt contents and language. Gestures and figures, in fact, have no meaning if cleverness doesn’t match with symbolic and evocative actions. In the early 60’s the so-called “Schermaglia” (Skirmish) was thus conceived, to symbolize the eternal struggle between good and evil, and it is still in the repertoire of the group.

Where to stay in Arezzo

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Arezzo, check them out and make a reservation here.

Courtesy of Associazione Sbandieratori di Arezzo