After the road crests at the Consuma Pass, it dips down to the hamlet of Ponticelli. There’s a bus stop here, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, where the bus from Florence offloads passengers going to towns in the Casentino and the busses from the Casentino offload the passengers going to Florence. For the most part, the timing is coordinated, but the first time it was a little nerve-wracking, wondering if we’d be stranded here!
After Ponticelli, the road climbs again through a heavily-forested area (as I mentioned in another post, the wood used for the scaffolding and machines used to build the dome of the Duomo came from the forests of the Casentino), but at one point, the land drops away from the road and I can see Poppi and the valley opening up before me. From here, I am usually narrating the journey in my head for the benefit of my siblings, wishing they could be along for the adventure and thinking how much they would enjoy this trip. When I am bringing someone to Porciano for the first time, I try not to narrate – I don’t want to impose my feelings on their first impressions.
Then it’s time to make the turn at Scarpaccia, where a bar (meaning a place to get food and drink, not just alcohol) marks the turn. Now I’m almost to Porciano and I swear I can feel the tug of the place. Soon Castello di Romena comes into view. No matter the angle I see it from – from Porciano, on SR70 from Bibbiena, or from here – I get a catch in my heart because it’s so beautiful.
A couple more twists and turns and Porciano comes into sight. I’m like a showman when someone is with me – if no one is behind me, I stop the car and point out the village with Castello di Porciano behind it. Then it’s down into Stia, a little town of which I am very fond, a turn onto a small bridge across the Arno River, with the centro storico on the right and the football (soccer) field and La Rana, a restaurant overlooking the Arno, on the left.
A turn onto Via Dante Alighieri and I’m almost there. I pass the house where a dog named Zoe and her canine companion whose name I haven’t found out yet live, hoping to catch a glimpse of them both; if I see them, I sometimes pull over and distribute scritches! Another turn, and Porciano comes into view again. Different times of day and seasons have shown me the hills ahead glowing with light or wind ruffling the olive trees, displaying the silvery undersides of their leaves. In the fields on either side of the road, I often see a shepherd with his flock. Another turn or two and I’m in the piazzale below the castle. I pass the local cemetery, turn into the drive, and I have arrived.
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