Bibbiena, the main town in Casentino
Bibbiena is a town in the province of Arezzo located in the Casentino valley, of which it is the most important center from an economic and productive point of view. The town stands on a hill at an altitude of 425 meters above sea level, not far from the course of the Arno river.
Although the surrounding area has been inhabited since the Etruscan era, the birth of the village of Bibbiena dates back to the Middle Ages. In particular, the village developed around a castle which between the eleventh and twelfth centuries was owned by the bishops of Arezzo. The control of the castle then passed to the Tarlati family from Arezzo who strengthened the defensive structures of the fortress. Finally, in 1360, Bibbiena was conquered by the Florentines and became part of the Republic of Florence.
Today Bibbiena is famous for the production of panno casentino, a traditional woolen fabric, green or orange, highly appreciated by Italian and international stylists. From a tourist point of view, the village is interesting both for its historical and artistic heritage and for the surrounding nature; the Casentinesi Forests are a magnificent green lung for Tuscany and offer many opportunities for hiking in the countryside.
Things to do in Bibbiena: guide to visit the hamlet
Walking through the streets of the historic center of Bibbiena we can admire some historic buildings, prestigious monuments, an interesting archaeological museum and the remains of the medieval castle, namely the Porta dei Fabbri and a tower.
- Chiesa di San Lorenzo
- Palazzo Dovizi
- Palazzo Martellini
- Museo Archeologico del Casentino
- Oratorio di San Francesco
- Propositura dei Santi Ippolito e Donato
- Torre dell’Orologio
Chiesa di San Lorenzo
We begin our visit from via Dovizi where we find the San Lorenzo complex consisting of the church, the convent and the cloister. The church of San Lorenzo was built in the Renaissance style in 1474 but had to undergo a major restoration due to the damage caused by the earthquake of 1919. The interior, with three naves, preserves two glazed terracotta altarpieces, Adoration of the shepherds and the Deposition from the Cross, attributed to Andrea della Robbia.
The valuable Palazzo Dovizi stands right in front of the church of San Lorenzo. Built in 1498 by Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi, the palace is one of the most important civil buildings in the city. The building is spread over three floors and is characterized by a Florentine-inspired Renaissance layout.
Along the nearby via Cappucci, there is the fifteenth-century Palazzo Martellini. Widely modified during the eighteenth century, the building is characterized by a buffered portico on the facade on which the entrance door and a series of windows are inserted. A little further up you can see the coat of arms of the Martellini family and those of the Biondi and Montini families. Behind the building there is an Italian garden with the typical box hedges.
Museo Archeologico del Casentino
Refurbished in 2010 inside the Palazzo Niccolini in via Berni, the Casentino Archaeological Museum exhibits finds spanning a long period ranging from Prehistory to the late Roman period. The museum itinerary is divided into 6 rooms focused on prehistory, the Etruscan settlements, the Etruscan sanctuaries, the Lake of the Idols (a large archaeological site of Monte Falterona) and the Roman age; the last room is dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
Address: via Berni 21
For all the information on tickets and updated timetables in the museum, I recommend you visit the official web site.
Oratorio di San Francesco
Leaving the museum, if you take via Berni to the left, you will reach the Oratory of San Francesco. Built starting in 1736, the oratory has a beautiful neoclassical facade marked by 4 semi-columns surmounted by architrave and tympanum. The interior, in Rococo style, is rich in decorations and also preserves some works such as the canvas San Francesco receiving the Stigmata and frescoes frescoes with episodes from the Old and New Testament, made by Giuseppe Parenti around 1770.
Propositura dei Santi Ippolito e Donato
Just beyond the oratory, a short stairway leads to the Propositura dei Santi Ippolito e Donato. Founded in the beginning of the 12th century, this church was remodeled many times. Inside there are many art works as the Cross attributed to the Master of San Polo in Rosso; the Madonna con Bambino in trono e angeli by Arcangelo di Cola da Camerino; the Bicci di Lorenzo’s tryptich representing Madonna in trono con i Santi Ippolito, Giovanni Battista, Iacopo e Cristoforo and a Madonna con Bambino e i Santi Michele e Antonio Abate by Jacopo Ligozzi.
The Clock Tower is located in Piazza Tarlati a stone’s throw from the Propositura. Of medieval origin, although renovated on various occasions, this tower is one of the few remains of the castle of Bibbiena. A short distance away we find another tower, lower, and the Porta dei Fabbri.
What to do around Bibbiena
Immediately outside the city of Bibbiena (about 1 km), the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Sasso is definitely worth a visit. A beautiful example of Renaissance ecclesiastical architecture, the sanctuary houses some works of art of great value. The Casentino is also known for some important places of spirituality such as the Sanctuary of La Verna and the Hermitage of Camaldoli. These are very beautiful places both from an architectural and naturalistic point of view as they are immersed among the trees of the Casentinesi Forests. Both have great historical value. According to tradition, the Sanctuary of La Verna is the place where St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata, while the Hermitage of Camaldoli is the mother house of the Benedictine order of the Camaldolese. The Hermitage of Camaldoli is about 17 kilometers away; the Sanctuary of La Verna is located near Chiusi della Verna, 20 km away from Bibbiena.
There are also some towns to visit near Bibbiena. In the municipal area there is Serravalle which enjoys an excellent raised position and is located in the National Park of the Casentinesi Forests, Monte Falterona and Campigna: it certainly represents an option for those looking for a bit of coolness during the summer. To see the medieval tower, the Romanesque bridge and the church of San Niccolò.
How to get to Bibbiena
Bibbiena is located 30 kilometers from Arezzo and 60 from Florence. The city has a railway station and is regularly connected to Arezzo both by train and by bus. Also with Florence there is a constant connection by bus with the SITA lines while by train you will have to get to Arezzo and then change.
To reach the city by car from Arezzo you will have to take the Regional Road 71 Umbro-Casentinese towards Casentino-Bibbiena. From Florence you have to take the S.R. 67 del Passo del Muraglione up to Pontassieve then take the S.R. 70 of the Passo della Consuma towards Bibbiena.