Rooms with a view are the rule rather than the exception in this spectacularly sited hilltop town. In the late 14th century Fra' Angelico lived and worked here, and fellow artists Luca Signorelli and Pietro da Cortona were both born within the walls – all three are represented in the Museo Diocesano's small but sensational collection.
The term 'hidden gem' is bandied about with gay abandon in travel brochures and books, but this is one place that truly deserves the description. Dating from the year 1000, Sansepolcro (called 'Borgo' by locals) reached its current size in the 15th century and was walled in the 16th century.
Seeming to float in the clouds above the Arno plain, Poppi Alta (the historic upper section of the town) is crowned by the commanding presence of the Castello dei Conti Guidi. The kiosk in the piazza outside the castle is the social hub during the summer months; at other times locals tend to socialise in Ponte a Poppi (the lower town).
Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona e Campigna
One of only three national parks in Tuscany, this protected nature reserve straddles the Tuscany–Emilia-Romagna border, taking in some of the most scenic stretches of the Apennines and protecting the largest and best preserved forest and woodlands in the country. One of the highest peaks, Monte Falterona (1654m), marks the source of the Arno.
This unspoilt medieval hill town looms over the plain where the army of the Italian League, spearheaded by the Republic of Florence, famously defeated the numerically superior forces of Milan in 1440. Enclosed by massive walls, it is an easy detour for those travelling between Arezzo and Sansepolcro.
Most visitors zoom through this unremarkable town on their drive between Stia and Poppi, but it's well worth a pitstop around mealtimes. In the evening, tables at La Tana degli Orsi are hotly contested, so book ahead if you're keen to savour the traditional Casentino dishes that its chef creates with love and local produce.
Castello di Romena
Approaching from Florence, you'll be on the SR70 (Passo della Consuma), which winds its way through heavily forested scenery to the pretty town of Poppi. En route, consider stopping at the ruins of this 11th-century castle, a stronghold of the Guidi counts who ruled the Casentino until being supplanted by the Florentine Republic in 1440.
Close to the Castello di Romena, this attractive town sits on the banks of the Staggia river, a tributary of the Arno. For centuries, it was the centre of the Casentino's famous wool industry, and its historic wool mill, which operated until 1985, has recently been restored and opened as the Lanificio di Stia, a museum dedicated to 'the art of woolmaking'.