The long weekend in Casentino has been really touching for me. Not only for the marvelous places like Vallesanta, but also because of the great people I met and the gorgeous food I had. So here you’ll find some memorable places in Vallesanta.
As you probably know I don’t generally write too much about accommodations, but this is going to be a special exception. As a matter of fact, Casa Santicchio is different from all other places I’ve been to. It’s located on top of the hill and you have to drive for about two kilometres off-road to reach it. We can say that Casa Santicchio is halfway between a traditional Tuscany farmhouse and a large mountain hut, dating back to 16th century.
Laura and Marzio, the owners, left the busy Milan to buy the property some years ago. They carefully and passionately restored it creating a welcoming house for anyone. Rooms are cozy and quiet, surrounded only by the sounds of nature. Common areas are lovely, offering simple but functional spaces where you can spend some time reading or talking with other guests.
Casa Santicchio is also a real organic farm producing mainly potatoes and wheat. Most of the food Laura prepares in her large kitchen comes from her vegetable garden or from local farmers living in the surroundings. She likes baking her dark bread and delicious cakes with their wheat. She also organizes cooking courses, as well as other interesting activities. I’d like to say that she’s a volcano! Have a look here to see all the activities at Casa Santicchio.
Now, the location. The farmhouse is located along the Via Romea by Stade. This pilgrims’ route, that reaches Rome, was described for the first time by the German monk Stade in 1230 as a good alternative road from Hannover to Rome. There are several trails departing and passing through Casa Santicchio and one of the main activity is hiking. For example, you can easily reach the small hamlet of Frassineta in about 45 minutes walking.
This small hamlet is almost a ghost town located on top of a hill surrounded by woods. Only a few people live here all year round, but most of them come during Summer. Here you can visit the nice Museum of Narcisio. Well, Narcisio was the father of Angiolo, an old man from Casentino who decided to collect the items related to local culture and traditions.
So Angiolo decided to display his large collection inside an old granary and open it to the public. It’s really nice to hear his stories about some funny objects. For example the “carlina“, that is the dried head of a wild artichoke used by farmers to protect the animals from witches. As a matter of fact, it was hanged outside animals’ stables.
The town of Rimbocchi was an important junction of all roads of Vallesanta. Today only 35 people live here, but it’s still famous for its bread, the renowned Pane di Rimbocchi. The peculiarity of this bread, more than being very good, is that it is going to be better after a couple of days when it’s raffermo. This characteristic makes it perfect for cooking some of the traditional Tuscan dishes, such as Pappa al pomodoro, Ribollita or Acquacotta.
Every year during the first weekend of August there is the Bread Festival in Rimbocchi, where you can taste all the specialties prepared using this delicious bread.
Corezzo is probably the major town of the area. It’s the only one with a school, serving the entire valley. I have to say that I wished my son was going there because they’re working on a fabulous project with the EcoMuseo of Vallesanta. As a matter of fact, they’re trying to create strong relationships between children and territory, with special workshops and the support of the whole community. I suggest you have a look at the videos on the museum website, to learn more about this community and their history.
Corezzo is also renowned for the “tortello alla lastra” coming from the old farmers’ recipes. The tortello is a large handmade squared pasta filled with smashed boiled potetoes prepared with tomatoes, butter, cheese, and nutmeg. Then is roasted on the lastra, kinda of barbeque, and served. This is the main recipe, but it can be filled with other vegetables like cable and pumpkin. Of course, all ingredients should be fresh and in season. Every year during the weekend of August 15 there is Tortello Festival!
Another peculiar dish you can find in Corezzo is the Pane dolce. It was the first time I had a cake made out of bread and it was delicious. The recipe is secret and Rosalba and Marina didn’t reveal it. Anyway, the main ingredient is the bread of Rimbocchi raffermo (stale), soaked in milk and kneads with butter, eggs, flour, sugar, and raisins. Then it should stand for all night and baked in the morning. If you wanna try it you can go to the Baker shop in Rimbocchi.