A colourful past
The history of Casentino goes back to the Etruscans, who understood the economic importance of the area as a route across the Apennines. After the Roman era came the barbarian invasions which resulted in a period of economic decline.
The Middle Ages were the time of the area’s greatest splendour and many large properties were built. For 500 years Casentino was the private domain of a great feudal family, the Conti Guidi. In 1440, after the defeat of the Conti Guidi at the Battle of Anghiari, it was annexed by the Florentine Republic, which administered the region through one of its governors. Due to its geographical position and its history, Casentino has always been a kind of island in the heart of central Italy.
The valley has been the backdrop to many historical events and centuries-old disputes between rival communities. The Battle of Campaldino fought in 1289 between the Florentine Guelphs and the Arezzo Ghibellines was splendidly described in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. The area is rich in well-preserved architectural treasures and monuments dating from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Casentino is also blessed with many religious and monastic historical sites. The Franciscan Sanctuary of La Verna for example, where in 1224 St. Francis received the sacred stigmata, was built on a lofty crag, against the background of the ancient forest and around the grotto where he is said to have slept.