The town stretches over the green hills of the Apennines between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, along the Bidente river valley, at the heart of the ‘Parco delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna’.
Surrounded by the greenery of the ‘Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi’, of which it hosts the headquarters and a Visitor Centre, the territory of Santa Sofia offers visitors fascinating natural places, such as the Campigna forest and the artificial basin of the Ridracoli dam. A town of good living for the quality of its food, and the search for a harmonious and environmentally-friendly lifestyle, Santa Sofia is one of the Slow Towns.
A popular location in the past, in the Middle Ages the territory featured a number of castles and religious and monastic settlements.
Outstanding private buildings were built next to the religious ones, and some of them are still visible from the exterior such as Palazzo Giorgi (17th century) and Palazzo Bianchini Mortani, in the old district of Mortano. From the 16th century and a few centuries onward, the town was dominated by Florence.
Today Santa Sofia is a lively town offering plenty of things to see and do all year round, with its good living, nature and contemporary art.
The town is indeed home to the Contemporary Art Gallery “Vero Stoppioni” where many works by the artist Mattia Moreni are on display. Scattered through the river park are also sculptures by various artists among whom are Anne and Patrick Poirier. A nation-wide renowned art festival is also organized: the Premio Campigna.
The local specialty of the High Valley of the Bidente river is the tortello cooked on stone slabs and stuffed with pumpkin and potatoes (and other ingredients), to which a festival is dedicated every year, in mid-October. The name comes from the “lastra”, a rough sandstone slab used to cook tortelli.
On August 15th, the town is home to the "Buskers Festival", a traditional event with buskers and artists coming from all over the world. To all art lovers we recommend the prestigious “Premio Campigna” dedicated to both local and national contemporary artists and held every year, in September, since 1955.
At the top of Mount Aiola, 8 km from Santa Sofia, the town of Spinello is located in a beautiful landscape from which you can admire the valley until the sea. The old village was destroyed by Jacopo Salviati, Captain of the Florentine Republic, in an attempt (failed) to conquer the castle which, in the Middle Ages, was the highest fortress in Romagna. The ruins of the tower and the south-west bastion are still visible.
The Sportilia sports center is located at the entry of the town and is equipped with a conference center, medical center and guesthouse to host visiting teams and referees.
Following the provincial road S.P. del Bidente, at about 15 km from Santa Sofia, you will reach the medieval village Corniolo. Once a feudal land of the Guidi Counts, Corniolo is today a welcoming small town offering good tourist infrastructure and artworks, such as the Chiesa di San Pietro dating from the 12th century, which is the ideal starting place for walks and excursions.
Chiesa di San Pietro in Corniolo
If you take the forest road leading to the National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi for about 2 km and from here continue on foot for a short distance, you will reach the fascinating old rural settlement of San Paolo in Alpe, although today abandoned, at 1000 m above sea level.