Poppi and its outstanding Castle
Located on a hill in a strategic position in the valley of river Arno, since many centuries Poppi is one of the main town in Casentino. Poppi was probably born during the Roman age or even before the roman domination; maybe the name “Poppi” come from a roman surname (Pupia or Pompilia) or from an ancient word “poplo” that means “hill”.
The medieval hamlet grew starting from the 12th century when the Counts Guidi settled there and began the construction of the Castle. The Guidi’s domination lasted till the 1440, when Poppi was conquered by the Repubblica Fiorentina and became the seat of a Florentine vicar.
A distinctive feature of Poppi is its “L” shaped plan with the Guidi’s Castle and the Abbey of San Fedele on the opposite sides.
Things to do in Poppi: the guide to Poppi
Poppi is a delightful hamlet, very well preserved, and it’s not a surprire to see it into the Borghi più belli d’Italia (most beautiful hamlets in Italy); la nostra visita inizia dalla chiesa di San Fedele che si trova nella parte più a nord del centro storico.
Chiesa di San Fedele
The chiesa di San Fedele was built between 1185 and 1195 together with its monastery, then suppressed in 1810, close to the northern city walls; in the beginning its tower bell was one of the defensive towers along the walls. The church was expanded and remodeled many times over the centuries but a restauration, made between 1928 and 1934, has restored the original Romanesque style.
The interior, that preserves many interesing arte works, has one nave with Latin cross plan. The conspicuous wealth of San Fedele consists of valuable works including the Madonna with Child in throne by Maestro della Maddalena and works from artists as Francesco Morandini known as il Poppi, Giovan Battista Naldini, Pietro Sorri and Jacopo Ligozzi. Into the crypt are the rest of the Blessed Torello, a monk born in Poppi lived in the 13th century.
Chiesa della Madonna del Morbo
Leaving the church, we can enjoy a walk along a nice road with porticoes, via Cavour, that lead us to a nice square that represent the balance point of the hamlet: piazza Amerighi. Here we find the elegant chiesa della Madonna del Morbo with hexagonal shaped plan, with porticoes on three sides similar to those seen in via Cavour. Built between 16th and 17th centuries,the building is completed by a beautiful dome; inside there is a depict, Madonna col Bambino e San Giovannino, attributed to the school of Filippino Lippi.
Propositura dei Santi Marco e Lorenzo
On the left we find the Propositura of Saints Marco and Lorenzo. Rebuilt in the 18th century in the place of a previous church of 1284, the church has simple shapes with the facade framed by two pilasters supporting a triangular tympanum. The interior, with one nave, preserves two paintings made by Francesco Morandini known as “Poppi”, namely the Deposition and the Pentecost, and a Resurrection of Lazarus by Jacopo Ligozzi.
Along the road to the right of the propositura, we reach what is undoubtedly the symbol of Poppi and of the entire Casentino: the Guidi’s Castle in Poppi. Documented since the 12th century, the castle was expanded since the 1274 and then restructured when it became the seat of the Florentine vicar (15th century). Many restorations that have taken place, allowed the castle to keep in good condition until today. The complex is composed by a huge quadrangular building with a high tower with crenellated walls and outer ditch; another Tower, smaller, acts as a gateway to the courtyard of the building.
Outside the castle is spectacular, but inside is even better! As you enter you are in a beautiful courtyard where, surrounded by the coats of arms of the vicars, you can see the stairs leading to the floors of the castle. The second floor includes the grande salone with various works of art including a terracotta robbiana and a Madonna col Bambino from the school of Botticcelli. At the same floor there is the Biblioteca Rilliana, with a truly important book heritage composed of 25,000 volumes including 800 manuscripts and 600 incunabula. On the third floor we can visit the sala grande and, most of all, the chapel of the Counts Guidi entirely decorated with frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi, scholar of Giotto.
Inside the castle you can also visit the Museo della Battaglia di Campaldino, where there is a model that reconstructs the alignments that faced each other in the nearby plain of Campaldino on 11 June 1289. The battle was fought between the Guelphs led by Florence and the Ghibellines coming mainly from Arezzo. Florence obtained a very important victory and marked a turning point towards the conquest of hegemony over Tuscany.
January – March: thursday-sunday 10.00-17.00
March – June: every day 10.00-18.00
July – October: 10.00 – 19.00
November – December: thursday-sunday 10.00-17.00
Tickets: regular 6 euro; reduced 5 euro
I recommend that you always check the opening times as they may vary.
Things to do around Poppi
Eremo di Camaldoli
The municipal area of Poppi is rich in woods that invite you to make beautiful excursions surrounded by greenery, especially in the summer when you are looking for a refuge from the heat. One of the most beautiful areas is that of the Riserva di Camaldoli which for centuries has been cared for by the monks of the Eremo di Camaldoli (Hermitage of Camaldoli). The hermitage is a truly special place, one of the most important places of spirituality in the region and is the mother house of the Benedictine Congregation of the Camaldolese.
Badia Prataglia is an excellent starting point for exploring the Parco nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi. The town is immersed in the homonymous nature reserve and has been one of the main tourist destinations and holiday resorts in the area for a long time. From Badia Prataglia some paths and nature trails branch off that allow you to reach various areas of the natural park.
For other information on the Casentino and on the other centers of this beautiful region, I suggest you read the articles on Bibbiena, Stia and Raggiolo; each of these villages has very interesting peculiarities.
How to get to Poppi
The municipality of Poppi is located in the province of Arezzo about 38 kilometers away from Arezzo and just under 60 kilometers from Florence. The hamlet can be easily reached by car and public transport as Poppi has its own railway station and is also regularly served by buses.
By car: from Arezzo (38 Km) take the strada regionale 71 till Bibbiena, then regionale 70 Strada della Consuma till Poppi. From Florence (52 Km) SS67 till Pontassieve then Strada della Consuma SR70 till destination
By train: in the modern part of Poppi there is a train station on the train line Arezzo-Pratovecchio-Stia.
By bus: you can get to Poppi taking a bus by Etruria Mobilità.