Day33 Valle Casentina

We’ve been touring in the Valle Casentino, a beautiful area west of Florence, north of Arezzo, that is virtually untouched by mass tourism.

This morning we drove high up into the mountains to the Agriturismo Casa Pallino where the sheep were being sheared. The shearer, a man from Rimini whose company is called Longhorn Shearing, sheared about one hundred Sardinian sheep with a minimum of fuss.

He showed us his special shearer shoes which keep him from sliding. He wears two pairs of pants to protect against the lanolin.

Next the cheesemaker, Luciano Cipriani, gave us a demo of how he makes his particular cheese.

His mother, Miranda Gorelli, made the ricotta, and showed us the rolling pin she inherited from her grandmother, which she says is also good for chasing the husband away when he comes home drunk.

After a morning at the cheesemaker, and after many nibbles, we headed down the mountains to the town of Stia, where we had lunch at the Restaurant Da Fileto.

Going into the restaurant, we met a couple Erica knew who happened to be from Sebastopol, CA. The woman for many years had worked for MALT, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. Very small world.

It was Sunday, and many people were out for the big mid-day meal.

We popped into a church, La Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta, built in the 12th century. The whimsical capitals on the columns are from Romanesque times.

The fountain across from the restaurant spouts water from the mouths of the snakes emerging from the lions’ mouths. 

Having never seen such a fountain, I had to open the single spout that still offers water. Water from the mouth of a snake inside a lion. It seems magical. 

After lunch we once again climbed up the mountains, this time on the other side of the valley. In the town of Cetica we wanted to visit the Ecomuseo del Carbonaio, a museum dedicated to the charcoal makers who once lived in this area.

The museum was closed because the village was holding a festa to honor a priest from the area who had become known nation-wide for his exorcisms. We encouraged the director to open the museum. He agreed, but for only five minutes. He then spent over an hour taking us through the museum.

Returning down the mountain, we stopped by an antique water mill still in operation. Water in the stream feeding it was cold and clear.

We spotted beehives on a hillside.

And a nun walking in a tiny village. Many convents and monasteries have been located in this area for centuries.

We also passed the castle in San Nicolo, 

then we were back down in the valley and checked into our Agriturismo with its gorgeous views.

We met friends of Erica in a town called Soci, at an award-winning restaurant called La Buca. The meal was excellent. An appetizer of fresh vegetables and cheese.

The Florentine beefsteak we all shared.

And a chocolate dessert yummy beyond belief.

The most incredible part was that for six people, including wine and grappa, the entire meal was about forty Euro each.