77 – (ITA STAGE 29) – Valle Santa – Chitignano



Place of Departure


Place of Arrival


Length – KM

20 / 12,5

Nation of the route




Uphill Gap


Downhill Gap


CAI (Diff. Escurs.)




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The Stage

Casa Santicchio a great welcoming agriturismo with plenty of accommodation and a great kitchen where to eat in excellent company. Forded the stream of Pezza, a hamlet with an old church and a refurbished residence tower of the 11th century, and a spring of good water. Continuing along trough mixed woodland we come to Giona, again with the remains of an 11th C. tower-house, a church and ruins of ancient houses. The next is the village, once a castle, of Banzena, with remains of the precinct walls, of a keep reduced to a few stones, a watchtower, a church, and two tombstones dating to the 7th C. AD. Nearby is the site of an early Roman residence. There is here a fine agriturismo too. The Via Romea descends now to a crossroad and continues along a causeway to Querceto, an ancient overnight sheep pen for flocks during the transhumance. The Via Romea is now a sheep drove established in Etruscan times. We leave the drove to descend to Casa Villamagra, below which is what is left of Campi (Champ) one of the stations of the Via Romea by Albert von Stade and Matthew Paris of London. Here if one wishes to halt for a visit to Bibbiena, from Querceto one follows the paved road to Santa Maria del Sasso (a 15th C. sanctuary and convent set up by the Medici of Florence.  Here refreshments and overnight stay are possibilities by agreement with the Dominican monks community.

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The Via Romea after Banzena, on the way to the end Querceto is a road to walk along the Via della Dogana, a historic track for the transhumance sheep track leading from Romagna to Grosseto. We leave the Customs House and reach Villamagra from where you descend to Campi The valley of the river Corsalone below presents a picturesque scenery as one comes into view of the Arno valley in the far distance. This is part of the actual historical or archaeological section of our road, left out and forsaken by the network of modern highways. We go to Campi.

From Campi we cross the river over the modern bridge, now connecting with the pilgrims way to La Verna, which we follow for about 1 Km to a place called “Chiappe di Marco” (Marco’s backside), where we turn right and continue over the watershed, descend to a farm called Camparsèna, an Etruscan placename; we ford the Fosso Grande stream, we climb up to Sarna along an ancient steep road, now abandoned but formerly the main road to the castle, retaining its ancient 10th century keep, which became a residence of the local landlord until the early 20th century. By the south gate there is still the ancient pilgrims hospital. We then reach Croce di Sarna. Here we take footpath 033 and descend to the village of Ròsina, another medieval village with an Etruscan name, where we enter the municipality of Chitignano.  We descend to and cross the river aiming at reaching the Castle of Chitignano which we have seen while descending the slope. Continuing  with path 033 we will arrive at the Castle

VARIANT LA VERNA-CHITIGNANO (10 km) – To return from the Sanctuary of La Verna on the historical journey, we leave the sanctuary from the ancient door and go down to Beccia, the hamlet, a female hotel in the old time, because women could not stay in the monastery, under the rock of where the shrine is located. We follow the path CAI n.043. We cross the  road leading to Corezzo and follow that for Bibbiena for a few hundred meters as far as the path CAI n.033,  or from La Beccia we turn right and we go to Chiusi della Verna, then we go to Vezzano and 1km for to return on the path N°33,  which we shall follow all the way downhill for about 7 Km, until we see on our right the start of path N° 042 which will take us to Croce di  Sarna; instead, going to the left, and we are on the main track to Chitignano.

BIBBIENA – Bibbiena will be less than 1 Km away. The earliest settlements in the area of Bibbiena date back to Prehistory, then we have the Etruscan settlement proved by the numerous Etruscan placenames, including Bibbiena itself. The density of Etruscan placenames in the Casentino is extraordinary, more dense here than anywhere else in Tuscany and Latium put together. This would scientifically suggest that we are in the original ethnic homeland of the Etruscans. Be that as it may, Bibbiena appears in the written record in 979 as a castle of a powerful family whose bishops had been empowered by the Franks, like in Tyrol and in several other regions of the Germanic world. During the conflicts between Guelfs and Ghibellines, Bibbiena and Arezzo were Ghibelline whereas Florence was Guelf, so a conflict, sooner or later, was on the card. In a battle that took place in 1289 in the plain below Poppi, Arezzo, and Bibbiena were defeated and became subjected to harassment, abuses and devastations. At the beginning of the 16th century, Bibbiena was “colonized” by the Florentines under the Medicis. The Florentine colonists arrived as landowners, they built their residences in the town and erected a sanctuary for their devotional needs at Santa Maria del Sasso. The descendants of the colonists still inhabit most of the 18 mansions which confer to Bibbiena a supremacy over the other towns of the valley. Pity such heritage is not perceived by the population, who have deserted the town centre, to join the American way: ostentatious detached villas with enormous garages and gardens with ferocious dogs barking only at pedestrians, having rarely seen anyone walking. The inner cloister of Santa Maria del Sasso must be seen. The wall paintings under the porch of the cloister represent Bibbiena and several of its inhabitants and the landowners with their costumes as they were in 1717 . Being these paintings ex-votos for grace received in cases of survival after terrible accidents occurred to members of the aristocracy of Bibbiena. The paintings make a priceless record of the town at the peak of its “Golden Age”, when agriculture started to pay good dividends to both landowners and crop sharers. The rushing Corsalone river, the impetuous tributary of the Arno which from the Valle Santa catchment runs almost on a straight line, into the Arno where a town taking its name from the river is fast growing and surpassing Chiusi della Verna for its services and economy and modern amenities.

CAMPI DI BIBBIENA – From Campi, one of the halts in the Stade document of the Via Romea, the historical route had two possibilities for reaching Subbiano: one was to arrive at the bridge on the Arno following the Vessa torrent. The bridge on the Arno is no longer, there are some ruins that mark the point where it stood. The road ran along the right bank up to Rassina where it returned to left bank and went to Subbiano. The alternative possibility is: having crossed the Corsalone river at the bridge, of which only traces remain, we cross the river on a footbridge, the ancient route climbed to Montecchio (428m) and went to Pian d’Oci (746m) to descend upon Rassina. The first is not pleasant, due to a vast quarry and cement factory that ruins the landscape in a very severe manner, the second also disrupted by another quarry is very steep and partly erased. We therefore resort to an ancient alternative route leading to Sarna. Campi is now a hamlet with a church and some ruined houses. It was in the past an extension of the territory of Bibbiena on account of the fact that the maintenance of the ancient bridge, now ruined, was the responsibility of the baptismal church of Bibbiena. where the stage ends and where we find accommodation and restoration.

SARNA, one of the most fascinating hilltop settlements in Tuscany. Today a picturesque compact village and an archaeological site, is described in the local record as a “Hamlet with parish church of SS, Flora and Lucilla under the Baptismal church of Bibbiena. Nearly deserted today, it had 166 residents in the mid 19th century (1833)all tenant farmers. The ancient keep of Sarna, still a residence for the local landlords: the noble Montini family, was first built in the 10th century as we can see from the stones at the base of the building. It was extended and turned into a “palace” in the 12th century and the interior was rehashed and adapted to the demands of 18th century life. Laborers and share croppers lived in the compact village of Sarna, in a close community where marriage between siblings was very common. In the middle of the village still stands the ancient keep, which in course of the 18th century became a Summer residence of the landlord, like a boding hen surrounded by its chicks, the landlord planted trees and embellished houses and the church that belonged to the mother parish church of Bibbiena. There were some shops in the village, serving the basic needs of a largely self sufficient community where everything except salt and knitting needles, for which the inhabitants must walk to Bibbiena to purchase, in exchange for eggs and other products.

UPDATES: Once in Campi you head to the Corsalone river; the bridge that crosses the river is not currently accessible so you check the water level before venturing into the ford crossing (some work has been made); if it is not possible to reach the other side of the river, take to the right, a few meters before the bridge, the road that runs along the river that you follow up to the intersection with the SS71; turn left, cross the river with great attention to traffic, turn left again and take the direction to La Lappola; you go up the Corsalone river, pass the small center of La Lappola and reach the path that on the right goes up to Sarna. Unfortunately, the deviation extends the stage of 5 km, but does not present any difficulty in altitude and traffic: largely is not paved

For the description of the route see the Guide of Simone Frignani
SANTUARIO LA VERNA From airport (BOLOGNA, FIRENZE, PISA, PERUGIA) to Arezzo FS Railway Station TRAIN – Arezzo FS Railway Station- Bibbiena Railway Station: TFT trains (www.trasportoferroviariotoscano.it/index.php/Viaggia-con-noi/Orari-dei-treni) BUS/LOCAL TRAIN – From Bibbiena FS Railway Station with bus route to Chiusi la Verna (Monastero/Beccia)
CASA SANTICCHIO From airport (BOLOGNA, FIRENZE, PISA, PERUGIA) to Arezzo FS Railway Station TRAIN – Arezzo FS Railway Station – Bibbiena Railway Station: TFT  trains (www.trasportoferroviariotoscano.it/index.php/Viaggia-con-noi/Orari-dei-treni)
Motors Cycles Rent Località Ferrantina,23 – 52011 BIBBIENA AR 392-3576013
COMUNE CHITIGNANO Via Belardi, 6 – 52010 CHITIGNANO AR www.comune.chitignano.arezzo.it
Associazione Amici dell’Asino – Guida e Organizzatore 52010 Loc. Casanova,63 – 52011 BIBBIENA AR 320-0676766 – signi marta amici.asino@alice.it www.gliamicidellasino.it

Bold type for structures we already used
Red type for structures we have an arrangement (with Credential*)
(*) Prices might change for special situations: please book early and ask for confirmation
In some places it is difficult to find accommodation only for one night: we suggest you to take accommodation for more nights, using, for your movements, the comfortable and cheap local trains, route Brenner-Trento-Bassano del Grappa.