LA VERNA – (St. Francis of Assisi and the della Robbia)
La Verna is the place where St. Francis received the stigmata in 1224. This is a remarkable setting inside the National Park of the Woods of the Casentino where, from the Quadrant Outlook, one may admire the marvelous view of the valley below. This is also a good spot from which to approach the art of the della Robbia family who were responsible for some altarpieces in glazed terracotta, we will admire them here and elsewhere. Together we shall visit the Basilica dell'Assunta (the church of Mary of the Assumption), the little church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Saint Mary of the Angels), the Hall of the Stigmata, the bed of St. Francis, the Chapel of the Stigmata, a precipice and a pointy rock familiar to Francis.
The masterpiece at La Verna is unquestionably Andrea della Robbia's Annunciation.
CAMALDOLI (Faith, nature, and Giorgio Vasari )
Camaldoli, also known as 'Fontebona' (good spring) for the excellence of the waters present, stretches between two strategic places lying a mere three kilometers from one another: the Hermitage (Eremo) and the Monastery.
This beautiful itinerary allows us to experience the absolutely perfect marriage of nature and spirituality at this site. The first stop on our visit takes us to the church of saints Donato and Ilariano where we can admire three works commissioned by the Camaldolese order from the painter Giorgio Vasari. Then, inside the guest house, we will visit the two famous cloisters of Maldolo and of the Children (Fanciulli).
Pharmaceuticals were also important to the monks, as we can see in the Ancient Pharmacy of the Camaldolese Monks where we will be allowed to go into their galenic laboratory.
At the Hermitage, instead, we enter the church of Our Saviour Transfigured, built on the remains of an ancient oratory and given in the XVIIth century its current late-baroque form. The most evocative place here is the Lavra where, beyond a gate, a good twenty monastic cells dot these woods of the Casentino. The only visitable cell is the one once inhabited by Saint Romuald (early 11th C.)
POPPI (The castle and the town)
Poppi is rated among Italy's most beautiful towns. The castle of the Counts Guidi which overlooks the surrounding territory was designed by Lapo Tedesco, Arnolfo di Cambio's teacher. Inside is a model of the battle of Campaldino which took place in the valley below on 11 June 1289, the Rilliana Library, and a splendid chapel with frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi, a student of Giotto.
The town center faces the Castle. In Piazza Amerighi we find the Chapel of Mary of the Disease (Madonna del Morbo), built by the townspeople to give thanks for being spared various epidemics which raged through the Casentino in centuries past, as well as the Vallombrosian Abbey of San Fedele with the reliquary bust of the Blessed Torello, patron saint of Poppi.