About Arno and Tiber
The Arno, river of Florence, rises on Monte Falterona and works its way down into the Casentino (see The Heart of Italy). The ‘Veins’ or springs of the Tevere or Tiber, river of Rome, are on Monte Fumaiolo, some 30 km east. At first it looks as though the two rivers will join, but an Apennine spur divides them. One goes west, the other south.
Hereabouts the backbone of Italy is split into short steep ranges along the boundary wall of Tuscany and Romagna. Some are immense bramble patches, some darkly forested with beech and chestnut below, oak and pine above. Others have shouldered themselves into the valleys and staked out further claims for expansion in the shape of tufted cones with square towers and colour-washed villages on top. From a distance the effect is of green hats with badges and rosettes stuck in them. There is hardly as much level ground as would make a billiard table.
The road marked makes a memorable cross-country tour – about three days to see all the best places to visit – between Florence and Rimini. It runs a few kilometres beside the Arno, here a shy little brook, and follows the early course of the Tiber, a flashing stream of blue and silver eddies, the river portrayed in Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the Cross at Arezzo. From San Marino you look over another famous river, the Rubicon. In Caesar’s day it was the Roman Empire’s northern frontier. When he crossed it without Senate approval he was taking an irrevocable step.
At weekends on the Apennine crinali (crests) you see much traffic. City Italians come to shoot, to gather mushrooms, to fill flasks with spring water, to breathe clean air and let the silence (a rare commodity in modern Italy) soothe their ears. Some famous sites – Camaldoli, La Verna – attract pilgrims. Except where roads cross them, the crinali are deserted. The walker needs gloves to part the brambles on overgrown mule-tracks, the only traces of former inhabitants are the fairy rings of the charcoal-burners and the dilapidated cabins where chestnuts were dried. The hill villages remain unsophisticated, each the hub of its own little universe, cherishing a memory of Garibaldi’s retreat or an incident in the medieval wars – a miniature San Marino (which the tour also visits) in its passionate parochialism. The valley communities have surrendered to light industry and mechanized farming.
The airport is Rimini, international and domestic.
The 32-km rail trip from Arezzo to Stia is recommended. Another branch line comes into the region by Citta di Castello to terminate at Sansepolcro. Borgo San Lorenzo and Vicchio can be reached by rail from Florence.
The bus companies of Florence and Rimini have frequent fast services between the two cities by way of Forli and Arezzo. Bagno di Romagna is served by buses from Rimini and Cesena, also from Perugia and Arezzo via Sansepolcro. The chief bus termini for the upper Arno and upper Tiber valleys are Arezzo and Sansepolcro respectively.
From all the major towns within the region buses carry pilgrims to La Verna and the Camaldoli hermitage. At weekends in summer the services are of shuttle frequency. Excursion buses to San Marino, from Rimini and other Adriatic coastal towns, are also frequent. The principal bus companies in Florence are Lazzi, now comprising several local companies, and SITA.