Leaving from Florence, we follow the Arno, passing by Pontassieve and Rignano sull’Arno, discovering evocative landscapes where nature is on display in all its beauty. Merging onto the Setteponti provincial road that connects Florence and Arezzo, and whose name derives from the number of bridges that cross over the river, we find ourselves on a stretch of the Terre di Arezzo Wine Trail, near the towns of Terranuova Bracciolini, Castiglion Fibocchi and Loro Ciuffenna; indeed, along the road we travel on, there are numerous agriturismi and farms, ready to introduce visitors to typical products from the Arezzo area.
Along the way, we come across the hilltop town of Rondine, which welcomes us with its numerous flags from various countries. A cat rubs up against our legs to greet us and sticks with us as we walk down the town’s two quiet streets. We can’t help but be amazed by the view of the Arno on one side and Pratomagno on the other.
Continuing on, we stop in Castiglion Fibocchi, a village close to Pratomagno, home to not only an imposing castle once owned by the Guidi Counts, but also Leopold-era houses with their typical porches. This is where the Figli di Bocco Carnevale is held, a centuries-old event during which dozens of people take to the street dressed in lavish clothing, their faces covered by elegant papier-mâché masks. Leaving the village behind us, we continue down the Setteponti until we get to Ponte a Buriano, a town that gets its name from the Romanesque bridge over the Arno, surrounded by the Ponte a Buriano and Penna Nature Reserve.
This is the most famous of the seven bridges over the Arno, and it’s depicted in the background of the Mona Lisa and Madonna of the Yarnwinder by Leonardo da Vinci.
Next to the river, there’s a playground known as Parco della Gioconda, or “Mona Lisa Park,” with a small train that follows a 1-km track through the trees along on the river bank. A series of white hand-written signs recount the history of this miniature railway line, built by Romolo Bardini on a stretch of land granted by ENEL. From here, I recommend venturing into the Ponte a Buriano Nature Reserve all the way to the Penna reservoir, surrounded by holly oak and durmast trees; it’s truly a spectacle of nature!