The land of Casentino cloth
Etruscan in origin but developed in the Middle Ages, Bibbiena is the most important economic and manufacturing area of the Casentino valley, in the province of Arezzo. Today, the village is known for producing Casentino cloth, a traditional woollen fabric, fulled (that is, felted) and brushed to make it waterproof.
While strolling through the narrow streets of the old town, look up to admire the prestigious monuments and historical buildings, including the Renaissance-style Church of San Lorenzo and the Oratory of San Francesco, with its Rococo-style interiors. All that remains of the medieval castle is the Clock Tower, together with another shorter tower and the “Porta dei Fabbri” (Blacksmiths’ Door). There are also plenty of noble palaces, including Palazzo Dovizi and Palazzo Martellini. Another place worth visiting is the Archaeological Museum of Casentino, inside Palazzo Niccolini, where you can find artefacts ranging from prehistory to Roman times.
If you can, we recommend visiting Bibbiena during the Carnival, to witness some of the most famous and fascinating celebrations in Italy. It begins on the first Sunday of the Carnival with a costume parade of ladies, knights and jugglers, divided into two factions: the “Fondaccini”, those belonging to the low-rent district, and the “Piazzolini”, who lived in the palaces in the upper, wealthier part of the town. On Shrove Tuesday, at 5pm, the residents light the Bonfire of the Bello Pomo, the juniper tree symbolising peace and good luck.