Belonging to “The Most Beautiful Towns in Italy” network, Loro Ciuffenna is a picturesque town where art, wine and stunning natural scenery go hand in hand in the Arezzo countryside. From old bridges over mountain streams to centuries-old watermills, the curiosities are endless.
The Arezzo area is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in Tuscany thanks to Cosimo III’s edict in 1716. Many of the wineries follow the Valdarno di Sopra DOC production guidelines, where international varieties like Merlot and Chardonnay sit comfortably alongside local grapes such as Sangiovese and Malvasia Bianca. Our first stop is Il Borro, an all-organic luxury estate 20 minutes southeast from Loro Ciuffenna by car. Owned by the Ferragamo family, stroll over the medieval bridge and up the hill to the spotless village dotted with artisan stores and first-rate holiday apartments. Enjoy a tasting in the centuries-old cellars after admiring the collection of etchings and paintings in the Wines&Art Gallery. Next up is Tenuta San Jacopo, southwest of Loro Ciuffenna on the border between the Valdarno and Chianti. The mostly organic wines from this beautiful estate reflect the location, ranging from Chianti DOCG to an unusual Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Sangiovese sparkler. Both of these estates offer opportunities to experience the grape harvest from early September to late October.
Walk off the wine from one bridge to another. Starting in the town centre of Loro Ciuffenna, admire the Romanesque bridge, which locals simply refer to as the “old bridge”. Its grass-covered cobblestone lead up and over what was formerly a customs bridge between Pratomagno and the valley floor. Hike due north to San Clemente in Valle, a village set on a spur whose sturdy bridge crosses the Borro della Contea mountain stream and proved essential for wayfaring in the area. Locals refer to the construction as the “Roman” bridge, although it’s not that ancient and it is believed that the current sandstone edifice replaced an older bridge that was wrecked by flooding.
One of the most unusual aspects of the Loro Ciuffenna area are the striking rock formations known as “Le Balze”. A lake covered this land two million years ago, which was eroded over time by rain and wind. Leonardo da Vinci was one of the first to comment on the formations. The best way to explore Le Balze is on foot along the walking route known as “Acqua Zolfina” and signposted by the Club Alpino Italiano. The two-hour circular route begins next to the Badia di Soffena, passing through Castelfranco di Sopra town centre before heading into the striking scenery of Piantravigne and back to the starting point.
Loro Ciuffenna boasts one of the oldest watermills still in good working order in Tuscany. Out of the 14 original water-operated mills along the Ciuffenna river, only one remains thanks to Giuseppe Parigi and his son Fabrizio, who continue to produce wheat, corn and chestnuts flour using three separate grinding stones and a “buratto”, a sieve to separate the chaff from the grain. The mill is open daily for tours; for more information, contact the Loro Ciuffenna town hall.