In the Valdambra, in the heart of Tuscany, between Arezzo, Siena and Florence, magic and history have been at one for centuries. This area has always been a place of excellence thanks to the wisdom of its farmers and craftspeople, who still preserve these centuries-old traditions today.
It’s no coincidence that wines from San
Leolino, Cennina and Galatrona, both Trebbiano (whites) and Vermigli
(reds) features among the finest
wines accounted for in the Florentine land registry of 1427. Even
the Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo wrote the following words
about the Valdambra: "a very well cultivated valley".
Still today the valley offers visitors a sequence of snapshots and places of extraordinary charm, an area where wines continue to be produced that bottle the magic of a typically Tuscan landscape, where humans have been integrated with their land for centuries with the deepest respect.
In the hills covered in dense vegetation of heather, juniper, oak, strawberry trees and brooms, you’ll come across one village after another, tilled fields, vineyards and olive groves. If you notice the odd buildings that look like where witches or wizards would live, don’t be scared. They are simply broomsticks made from heather piled up one on top of another. This is where the oldest brooms in the world are produced: the so-called “granate toscane”, the result of a tradition and trade passed down through generations to today’s expert artisans, known as scopettari or scopaioli. The broomsticks of the Valdambra are the stuff of Oscars: Benigni asked for some on the set of his film Life Is Beautiful.
Beware when climbing Galatrona Tower, also known as il Torrione and dating back to the tenth century. You might come across Nepo da Galatrona, awizard and huckster well-known in fifteenth-century Florence. He made a living by saying that he possessed supernatural healing powers, exploiting popular believes and superstitions of the time. His presumed powers put him in the line of fire of the Florentine Inquisition, from which he was saved by Lorenzo the Magnificent.
On this journey to discover the Valdambra guided by magic, there simply has to be a love story. The love felt by a woman, Quirina Mocenni Magiotti, for the poet Ugo Foscolo. A sentiment treasured in letters "…and consider that no Woman could ever love you with such loyalty, sincerity and pride as your Quirina”, written between 1802 and 1847 in San Leolino. In this village in the Valdambra, perched on a hillock, framed by the silhouettes of age-old cypresses and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, following the narrow Via Ugo Foscolo, you reach the vicarage courtyard, once Quirina’s home. “Gentle Woman” whom Foscolo called a friend, a lover, a mother and a sister, in a letter addressed to her.
Bucine and its countryside sparks unique feelings, now like then, which stay in your memories for ever.