A small and charming town 35 km. from Arezzo, in eastern Tuscany, Poppi is dominated by a remarkably well preserved 13th century castle. The town still has its original Medieval porticos, two interesting churches, and a stunning view of the Casentino Valley.
What to see in Poppi, Tuscany
Castle of Counts Guidi
The tall thin tower (the original would have been even taller) is similar to the one in Piazza Signoria in Florence. In fact, Vasari was convinced that Arnolfo di Cambio was inspired by this castle to design Palazzo Vecchio.
The highlights of a visit the castle are the courtyard with the splendid staircase,the Chapel of Conte Guidi with XIII century frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi (a pupil of Giotto) on the second floor, and the library, Libreria Rilliana, that contains hundreds of medieval manuscripts.
⇒ See all the highlights of the Casentino, a magical land of forests and ancient hamlets.
Church Oratorio della Madonna del Morbo
Morbo means “disease” in Italian, and the church was built in 1630 in thanks to God for sparing people from the plague. It has an interesting hexagonal shape and porticoes that are in tune with the older part of town.
Abbey of San Fedele
A church cherished by the citizen of Poppi, because of the evocative crypt that houses the remains of the Hermit San Torello who performed miracles, once saving a boy from a wolf.
The expressive “Madonna del Ginocchio” is painted by the so-called Maestro della Maddalena, an anonymous 13th century Florentine artist. Richly decorated, the madonna looks sad, like she knows the destiny of her child.
Just outside the church, on the left, there’s Porta San Fedele, one of the access points to the town. Go out from there and you’ll find an opening with a splendid view over the castle.
Practical tips ⇒ it’s a relatively steep 20 minute walk up to the historic centre. Unless you have trouble walking this is your best option however, as the streets in the old town are very narrow and parking is scarce. In the new part of town you’ll find shops selling traditional food, some bars, restaurants and accommodation facilities, while the historic centre is pretty quiet, especially if you visit out of season.
Did you know?
The story of the family who built the castle Conti Guidi, that ruled over this territory until 1440, is known to every Italian student. This is because Dante Alighieri, the “father of the Italian language” was their host during his exile. He stayed in another castle near Stia, which today is in ruins. Here he wrote part of the “Inferno” and even used the Guidi Counts as characters.
The valley has been the backdrop to age-old disputes between rival communities. The Battle of Campaldino fought in 1289 between the Florentine Guelphs and the Arezzo Ghibellines was splendidly described in Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”.
⇒ Discover the tale of the ghost that haunts Poppi Castle, and more eerie places to visit in Tuscany!
What to see nearby
Arezzo is 35 km. from Poppi.
Caprese Michelangelo, the small town were Renaissance genius Michelangelo Buonarroti was born, is an hour away.
La Verna Sanctuary, atmospheric Franciscan Sanctuary an hour drive from Poppi.
From Poppi you can easily reach and explore the Foreste Casentinesi National Park.
⇒ Check out this 2 Day itinerary that takes in the best of the Casentino.