Ortignano Raggiolo and the Mona Lisa’s bridge
Ortignano Raggiolo, a small town in the province of Arezzo, is at the end of a long and narrow valley where the Teggina, an affluent to the Arno, runs between Poppi and Bibbiena.
This stone medieval hamlet, founded around the 7th century by Goth and Lombard people, is nestled between chestnuts trees and surrounded by the Tuscan hills, amongst which the Pratomagno’s profile stands out.
One of the most beautiful villages in Italy, modern Ortignano Raggiolo was founded in 1873 by merging the two municipalities of Raggiolo and Ortignano. Its typical product are chestnuts, celebrated during the Castagnatura every fall and showcased in the town’s Center for Chestnut Interpretation, where panels, a multimedia section and a display of work tools take visitors on a trip back in time, where they can get to know the culture around this incredibly crucial fruit in Italian tradition.
Before entering the town, you can stop on the wonderful Buriano bridge – some 30 kilometers south, towards Arezzo –, an imposing humpback bridge with seven arches (plus one underground) across the Arno.
Noted even by philosopher Michel de Montaigne, who described it as “long and beautiful” in his “Journey in Italy”, to this day this bridge has art historians fight – over the hypothesis that it is the one painted by Leonardo in the background of his “Mona Lisa” (as well as of his “Madonna of the Yarnwinder” and “Virgin of the Rocks”).