San Giustino is right on the border between Umbria and Tuscany: here, differences blur, the Umbrian and Tuscan dialects mix and so does the cuisine. Visitors often ask, “Are we in Umbria or Tuscany?” only to discover that, basically, the answer is not all that important.
5 things to do and see in San Giustino
1. Castello Bufalini
First built as a military fortress to defend the territory of the Papal States by the Florentine Republic, Castello Bufalini is the watershed between Umbria and Tuscany, and displays influences from both of these regions.
From a fortress, Castello Bufalini was subsequently converted into a residence.
Today, Castello Bufalini is public property and a guided tour will allow you to learn its history through the frescoes, paintings, furniture and chandeliers that adorn its halls.
There is a beautiful Italian garden, with boxwood trees and a maze created in 1692.
2. Villa Graziani
Villa Graziani is a late Renaissance villa built on a medieval fortress, now a museum dedicated to objects recovered from the excavations of the Roman Villa of Pliny the Younger, an author and Roman senator who fell in love with the area around San Giustino and described it as a natural amphitheater.
3. The Tobacco Museum and the Ancient Republic of Cospaia
The Tobacco Museum features a collection of old machinery for the production of tobacco and a collection of vintage photographs. It is an essential visit for understanding the history and economy of the entire Upper Tiber Valley of Umbria and Tuscany, which was based on the cultivation of tobacco.
Indeed, the link between tobacco and the area was created a few kilometres from San Giustino, in what was then the Republic of Cospaia.
Cospaia became an independent state in 1441 when, due to a boundary error, the village was left out of the partition of the territory between The Papal States and the Republic of Florence. In drawing the new boundaries, both sides took the Rio Torrent as a reference, forgetting, however, that the territory is crossed by two Rio Torrents, which surround the hill of Cospaia and then both flow into the Tiber.
So the inhabitants of Cospaia, 350 people in less than 100 families, proclaimed their village a Republic that, with no laws and duties, flourished thanks to the cultivation of tobacco.
Four hundred years later, Cospaia was reabsorbed by the Papal States but, in the meantime, the cultivation of tobacco had expanded to the whole valley becoming, in fact, one of the most important activities of the area.
4. Pizza and concert in Roccolo Park
The park of San Giustino is large and well maintained. Set on a hilltop, it offers a beautiful view and is a nice refuge from the hot summer days. In the summer, the non-profit cultural association, Casa di Alice, operates a pizzeria in the park and organizes concerts.
A pizza and a concert in Roccolo Park is a great way to spend an evening in this area and helps the young volunteers of the association to carry on their activities.
5. Mulino Renzetti
Built in the Middle Ages, it is the only water mill still working out of the 26 in the area at the beginning of the 20th century. It is of the type called “ritreci”, with horizontal wheel milling and sixteen rotating oak blades. We found it in excellent condition in a small rural village, powered by the waters of the Fosso di Parnacciano.
Located a few kilometers from San Giustino, it is privately owned but can be visited thanks to the generosity of the owners.
Why it’s one of the places to visit in Italy
Because it is a borderland next to the Apennines that inextricably link the Upper Tiber Valley of Umbria and Tuscany, and the area of Città di Castello with Sansepolcro. Because here, history is concentrated and blended: the ancient Romans and Renaissance castles, the smallest republic in the world and the peasant tradition.