Valtiberina is a part of Tuscany that often goes unnoticed, despite being beautiful and rich in art and history. So, if you’re looking to get away from the crowds of sightseers on your next trip to Tuscany, this is an area I strongly suggest you to consider.

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After Florence, the classic traveller’s routes in Tuscany are either west to Pisa, Lucca and the coast, or south through  Chianti, Siena and San Gimignano. But what about the eastern side of the region?

If you travel to the border with Umbria, you’ll find an untouched corner of Tuscany where locals far outnumber tourists and sleepy villages hide fantastic art treasures. This is Valtiberina, an area that takes its name from the river Tiber that flows through the region, and features a fascinating landscape of forested hillsides and charming medieval hamlets. Here you can admire the masterpieces of Piero della Francesca, explore the birthplace of Michelangelo and follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, who lived in this area for part of his life,

Curious? Here’s what you can see and do.

Sansepolcro

Sansepolcro is the biggest village of Valtiberina and the birthplace of Italian Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca. Some of his greatest works can be admired at the Civic Museum and Gallery, housed in an elegant palazzo that was once the seat of the local municipality.

Tuscany-valtiberina-sansepolcroThe historic center still retains its artistic charm, with a multitude of fine buildings, interesting museums and fascinating churches. One of the best times to visit Sansepolcro is during the Palio della Balestra, a medieval crossbow competition between Sansepolcro and the town of Gubbio that takes place every year in September.

Anghiari

Anghiari is a charming medieval village with a perfectly-preserved historic center made of ancient palazzos and atmospheric passageways lined with artisan studios and antique shops. The view you get while approaching the town is equally beautiful, with the fortified walls rising up from a rocky spur above the Tiber. It’s no surprise that it’s been declared one of the most beautiful villages of Italy.

Tuscany-valtiberina-anghiariAnghiari was the site of the famous battle fought between Florence and Milan in 1440 that inspired Leonardo da Vinci’s lost fresco and today this historical event is celebrated during the Palio della Vittoria on 29 June. Antique lovers shouldn’t miss the huge Mostra Mercato dell’Artigianato della Valtiberina that takes place in April every year.

Caprese Michelangelo

As its name suggests, Caprese Michelangelo is the birthplace of the great Italian artist Michelangelo and everything here is connected to the Renaissance maestro. You’ll be able to see his childhood home, the XIII-century Church of St. John the Baptist, where Michelangelo was baptized, and a special museum within the walls of the old castle. 

Tuscany-valtiberina-caprese-michelangeloCaprese Michelangelo is surrounded by a breathtaking scenery of vineyards, sunflowers fields and forests of chestnut trees. The village comes to life in October with the Chestnut Festival that attracts thousands of visitors looking to sample all sorts of chestnut-based delicacies. There are also some interesting religious buildings linked to the passage of St. Francis of Assisi here, such as, the Chapel of Zenzano and the Casella monastery.

Monterchi

Monterchi is a quaint medieval hamlet of 2,000 souls perched on top of a hill considered sacred by the Romans, due to a connection with the mythological figure of Hercules. The key attraction here is the Civic Museum located just outside the village walls, where you can admire Piero della Francesca’s most celebrated work of art, the XV-century fresco of Madonna del Parto.

Tuscany-valtiberina-monterchiMonterchi is also home to a bizarre collection of scales and weights on display at the Scale Museum on via XX Settembre. You’ll see all sorts of scales to weigh everything from babies to large hunks of cheese! The social calendar is filled with interesting events, such as the Monterchi Festival with 50 days of celebrations between June and August, and the Polenta Food Festival in September.

Pieve Santo Stefano

A village much loved by Lorenzo de’ Medici, Pieve Santo Stefano is often referred to as the “town of the diary” because of its Little Museum of Diary, an incredible place that celebrates the historic value of diaries and letters written by ordinary people. Pieve Santo Stefano was almost completely destroyed during World War II and this archive was created to keep alive the memory of local history and today the thousands of diaries, memoirs and letters kept here are an amazing recollection of our local history.

Tuscany-valtiberina-pieve-santo-stefanoOther interesting things to see in Pieve Santo Stefano are the XIII-century Cerbaiolo monastery that was donated to Saint Francis and the Temple of Santa Maria del Colledestro with its peculiar octagonal shape. Also not to miss is the Calcio in costume in September, a competition that celebrates the early form of football that originated in Italy in the XVI century.

USEFUL TIPS

  • Valtiberina is about an hour and a half drive from Florence and is best explored by car. There are points where the road winds up the hills but all in all it’s a pleasant drive. Alternatively, you could reach Arezzo by train from Florence (about 1 hour) and then travel around Valtiberina by bus (check out timetables and connections at www.etruriamobilita.it)
  • I visited Valtiberina as part of my 10-day road trip in Tuscany last year, with an overnight stay at Sansepolcro to attend the Palio della Balestra. I suggest to spend at least one night in the area to thoroughly enjoy it without rushing from place to the other

 

Until next time,

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21 Comments

Mimi 2 May 2018 at 07:39

Anghiari looks beautiful. Can’t wait to go to italy this summer. It sounds like we will have a blast seing these beautiful things in your list. Worth it for the road trip from Florence to see this town!

Lisa 2 May 2018 at 11:51

What a beautiful town in Toscana! I didn’t make it to Valtiberina, but it’s clear there are many great things to see and do here. I love that church, and would probably take a 100 photos if I visit!

Denny George 3 May 2018 at 13:58

I’ve visited Tuscany, but returned after the usual Chianti, Sienna, Florence, Pisa circuit. Your blog opened my eyes to how much more Tuscany has to offer. Valtiberina looks stunning and sounds quite interesting. I’ll definitely plan a revisit to Tuscany some time in the near future.

Sandy N Vyjay 3 May 2018 at 14:02

Valtiberina is indeed a revelation. Just about an hour from Florence! We were in Florence a couple of years ago but did not have much time to explore other parts of Tuscany, except for Pisa. Hope to head to those parts again. Valtiberina looks so pristine and untouched. One place we would love to visit is Caprese of Michael Angelo. It would be great to visit his birthplace.

YUKTI 3 May 2018 at 16:02

I visited Tuscany but could only go through Florence and Pisa. But there are lots of things to see and go through in Tuscany. I would love to go through the narrow lanes and medieval town of Valtiberina

Deeptha 3 May 2018 at 19:27

We haven’t been to Tuscany yet. Having read your post, I think when we decide to, we will probably skip the popular, touristy places and head to Valtiberina instead. Anghiari is so beautiful – small, hilltop town with narrow cobbled streets; just what I like.

Diana 4 May 2018 at 22:25

I’ve never been to Tuscany before, but this looks like the perfect way to visit it – by stopping by these little towns and experiencing life as a local. It sounds so much more enjoyable to me than trying to push through the crowds of Rome or Venice. Did you find the food in these smaller areas to be better/more authentic than in the bigger cities as well?

    admin 9 May 2018 at 06:23

    Yep, less tourist traps around 😉

Shaily 4 May 2018 at 23:22

Tuscany looks like an amazing place to visit. There is so much to explore in this less touristy city. The quaint medieval buildings look extremely fascinating. I would so love to venture into the narrow streets of these villages to get a glimpse of the local life as well as peeping into some chapters of the bygone era. Thanks for sharing these lovely photographs. 🙂

    admin 9 May 2018 at 06:22

    Thank you Shaily, I’m so happy that you enjoyed the article!

Kate 5 May 2018 at 13:34

Beautiful! I travel to Tuscany pretty regularly (in fact, I’m going next week!), but haven’t made it up to Valtibernia yet. A lot of that has to do with reluctance to rent a car, but we really need to grit our teeth and do it! Anghiari and Monterchi are both calling my name–such beautiful spots.

    admin 9 May 2018 at 06:22

    Driving around Tuscany is absolutely fine, I did it alone a couple of times and didn’t have any issues….go and explore all that beauty!! 🙂

Parnashree Devi 5 May 2018 at 17:59

Tuscany always fascinates me. But reading your post, I would love to visit each village which is out of tourist radar. Loved the post. Its a great guide for people like me who always want something beyond obvious. Thanks for sharing.

    admin 9 May 2018 at 06:21

    Thank YOU! My focus is exactly this – to show you guys all the beauty of Italy beyond the usual routes 🙂

Stella Jane 6 May 2018 at 15:55

The Valitberina looks like a gorgeous area. I don’t know how to drive so I’d have to figure out how to see it, but it seems worth the effort. I’d especially like to go to Michelangelo’s birthplace and I’d also like to see the museum of the diary.

    admin 9 May 2018 at 06:20

    They have a pretty good public transportation system, so it shouldn’t be a problem 🙂 Hope you’ll have the chance to visit that beautiful area!

KaroAdores 7 May 2018 at 10:21

We love Tuscany, this is such a beautiful place in the world! Thanks to give us more beautiful places to visit in this nice area of Italy =)

    admin 9 May 2018 at 06:19

    Thanks to you for reading! I hope you found it useful 🙂

Iulia 9 May 2018 at 06:26

I was saying earlier to a friend that I really need to get to Tuscany! This post convinces me two times more. I love it and have bookmarked it for future reference ☺️☺️ out of the small villages that you wrote about, I would absolutely love to visit Anghiari.. I would adore to get lost on those streets filled with rich history 😍😍😍 thanks for sharing!

Brendan 13 November 2018 at 09:31

This article confirms that I need to go back to Tuscany again. Anghiari and Monterchi look stunning. Want to get to Sansepolcro as well. Thank you, I had no idea of this region.

    Val 28 November 2018 at 21:15

    Tuscany is such a beautiful and varied region!

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Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I'm Valentina, an Italian blogger with a huge passion for my country, its culture and traditions. My Italian Diaries is the online space where I share my expert knowledge of itineraries, activities and off-the-beaten path places to help you experience the best of Italy like a local.

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