Casentino is the name of area within Tuscany that identifies the upper valley of the Arno, through which the river flows from its source in Mt Falterona as far as the city of Arezzo. Here its waters escape from the confining Apennines into the plain and continue more placidly towards Florence. The Arno rises at no great distance from its brother, the Tiber, and runs parallel to it for a while, as if both had been marked out to share a splendid destiny. Indeed they are separated only by a sharp ridge, high upon which the monasteries of La Verna and Camaldoli stand sentinel over their respective valleys. Over the centuries this wild and beautiful land has sheltered a succession of saints, mystics and poets attracted by the peaceful isolation offered by its high peaks and ancient forests. St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata here; the exiled Dante took refuge with the Counts of Guidi in their castle at Romena;and the natural beauty of the Vallombrosa pinewoods so inspired English poet John Milton that he immortalized it in his epic poem Paradise Lost of 1638. This is a rural land with more than its fare share of pasture, vineyards, chestnuts and clean waters. Castles, medieval villages, walls, towers and monasteries are set in the landscape like precious stones in a crown. This land is home of a rare and privileged encounter between modernism and medieval, history, religion and nature, asceticism and tourism.