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Ravine at Loro Ciuffenna
by Arianna Andrews


Loro Ciuffenna panorama
by Arianna Andrews


Pieve di Gropina, Longobard Church
near Loro Ciuffenna

Welcome to Loro Ciuffenna
from Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population:  5,573 (2004)
Official website:
Loro Ciuffenna
Wikipedia: Loro Ciuffenna
Map:
Interactive map

Loro Ciuffenna (pronounced “Laur-o Chew-Fenn-a”) rings with a funny sound even in the ears of Italians. The small town, sandwiched between hills, takes its name from the deep stream – “Ciuffenna” - which divides the centre from outer-lying areas. The word “Loro” was added at a latter time, taken from the latin word “laurus,” - what we call the laurel shrub which is abundant in the area.

The natural setting alluded to by its name is still present today and with the town’s medieval foundations still very much intact. It is easy to picture Loro Ciuffenna as it once was hundreds of years ago: a thriving agricultural centre, productive in its grain and olive industries, busy with commercial activity that came out of its natural wealth.

The first written evidence of Loro Ciuffenna reaches back to 1000 A.C. though it is certain that human activity was already long-established. Its geographic position makes it quite probable that the first settlements go back to Etruscan times. Like many other Etruscan locations in the area, Loro Ciuffenna was later subject to Roman assimilation. The town was a strong commercial point being equidistant from Florence and Arezzo. It was only towards the II century B.C. that its economic powers waned, a direct result of the Roman emperor’s decision to invest in the growing centre of “Florentia”, today’s Florence.

The next significant milestone in the town’s history is represented by the barbaric invasions which swept over more than half of the Italian peninsula in from 500-700 A.C. The northern invaders – called Barbarians (the name referring to the fact that did not speak Latin like the Romans, and not their allegedly brutal life style) – brought significant cultural development that helped re-launch the local economy.

Spectacular evidence of architectural development and social wealth can be seen today in near-by Gropina, only 2km up the hill from the town centre. There, completely intact, stands an impressive church – Pieve di San Pietro – dating back to the VIII century. As visit inside makes the trek up well worth it. The pulpit and pillars are sculpted from local stone and are reminiscent of prehistoric art forms. On the contrary, the techniques used in the construction of both the church structure and its decorations were obviously very refined, and manifest what was great engineering and artistic knowledge of the Barbarian population.

During the Middle Ages (XIII century), Loro Ciuffenna passed under the political influence of Florence, having suffered the continuous tensions between the Guelf and Ghibellini factions, politically driven groups siding respectively with the Pope and the Emperor. Peace was achieved when Florence extended its domination to Arezzo, offering economic and political stability to all the smaller centres in between.

The dominating noble family of Florence, the Medici, took Loro Ciffenna as a feudal state during the XV century. Despite this time of social repression it afforded agricultural development, allowing this to become its main activity as well as clearly marking the surrounding areas. Even today the country side is clearly divided based on agricultural tradition as the quilted “patch-work” of fields, familiar to much of Tuscan territory, extends from Loro Ciuffena outwards towards Arezzo.

It was during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that most of the town’s architectural building took place; such monumental examples are the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, and the Basilica of Nostra Signora dell'Umiltà. Loro Ciuffenna has been wonderfully preserved and even today seems to splendour with local pride over its neatly-kept alleyways, characteristic piazzas and colourful buildings.

Especially interesting is its “mulino ad acqua” (or water-mill) from the 1600’s that sits on the very rocks of the river bed and is still functioning today! Walking through town one has the distinct impression that local life lives (and has lived) independently from outside influence and will continue to do so.

The historic centre is populated by small shops, the odd café, and of course the locals themselves (no large supermarkets, or clothing stores, flashy lights or tourist memorabilia...unlike near-by Chianti!) It is not hard to adapt to the peaceful and charming atmosphere that is created in the main square, Piazza Matteotti. You can enjoy the area’s best homemade gelato (ice-cream) from the shop on the bridge while perusing the roads along the river banks or by simply taking in the town’s picturesque setting from a bench in the main piazza.

by Arianna Andrews

Region of Tuscany

43°35′N 11°37′E

Distances

Arezzo - 42 km
Florence - 54 km  Siena - 115 km
Perugia - 118 km
Montepulciano - 80 km
Rome - 244 km
Cortona - 71 km

Directory

Relais Hotel
Dimora Casa Eugenia - 4*

 


Coat of arms, Loro Ciuffenna


A Village near Loro Ciuffenna
by Arianna Andrews