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Balze of Valdarno, Arezzo. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

The Balze of Valdarno: the landscape that is the backdrop to the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

A few km from the exit of Highway A1 Valdarno, between Florence and Arezzo you can admire an interesting erosive phenomenon known with the name of Balze (Cliffs). The Balze are one of the most beautiful and fascinating landscape of Valdarno.

These strange natural formations can be seen in the municipalities of Terranova Bracciolini, Castelfranco di Sopra, Pian di Sco, Laterina and Reggello. Since 1998 an area of the Balze wide nearly 3000 hectares in the municipalities of Castelfranco di Sopra, Loro Ciuffenna, Pian di Sco and Terranova Bracciolini, was declared a Protected Natural Area of Local Interest.

These strange natural formations can be seen in the municipalities of Terranova Bracciolini, Loro Ciuffenna Castelfranco di Sopra, Pian di Sco, Laterina, in the province of Arezzo and Reggello, in the province of Florence. Since 1998 an area of the Balze of about 3,000 hectares, in the municipalities of Castelfranco di Sopra, Loro Ciuffenna, Pian di Sco and Terranova Bracciolini, was declared a Natural Protected Area of Local Interest (Area Naturale Protetta di Interesse Locale).

The Balze were formed, as has happened in Bryce Canyon in Utah, from sediment deposited by a lake in the Pliocene and Pleistocene, this lake was about 20 km long, occupying the current Valdarno. Over the millennia, when the lake has receded, its sediments have been subjected to a continuous action of erosion by the weather whom have models them until assuming the fascinating shapes known with the name of “Balze”.

The Balze, with their pinnacle and spire of rocks represent a characteristic landscape, but little known, of the Valdarno, that deserves to be seen, also Leonardo da Vinci remained fascinated and he represented it in some of his paintings, like for example in the background landscape of the Mona Lisa.

Balze del Valdarno

Balze of Valdarno

HOW TO GET TO THE BALZE OF VALDARNO

The area of Balze is located between Florence and Arezzo, a few km from the exit Valdarno on the Highway A1. The most convenient train station is in Montevarchi. The nearest airport is in Florence.

There are several routes that you can travel to visit the Balze, particularly fascinating is the zone of the Balze dell’Acqua Zolfina that is reached from the highway exit Valdarno and follow the signs for San Giovanni Valdarno first, then after a roundabout, continue to Castelfranco di Sopra, after about four kilometers and near a furniture factory, turn on the right for a small dirt road. After about five hundred meters you can park your car and continue on foot.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • AA. VV. “Toscana” Guide Rosse Touring Club Italiano, 2007
  • Billi G. “Conoscere il Valdarno.Geografia e Geologia del Valdarno Superiore” Comune di Cavriglia, 1980
  • Fabbri Carlo; Francioni Paola “Castelfranco di Sopra. Il paese delle balze” Aska Edizioni, 2004
  • Piccioli G. Billi G. “Le Balze” Studio Mix Corboli, 1994
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