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The Italian village of Stia is situated at the foot of Mount Falterona and at the confluence of the Arno river (near its source) with the Staggia torrent, in the Casentino district to the east of Tuscany.
Start your visit in the center of the village in the square called Piazza Tanucci. This square, which is really more like a wide street, is irregularly shaped and surrounded by arcades, and the centre of life in Stia.
The square is named after Bernardo Tanucci, born in Stia in 1698 and minister of justice and chief royal adviser of Naples.
Items of artistic interest in the square include the stone fountain with metal ornaments and a fresco by Pietro Annigoni (1910-1988) that represents Saint Francis.
Also in Piazza Tanucci you can see the parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta. The church was originally built in Romanesque style in the 12th century, although the facade you see today is much more recent.
Inside the church are some pictures of remarkable artistic value such as the triptych of the Annunciation by Lorenzo Bicci. Also noteworthy are a "Madonna and Child" attributed to the school of Cimabue; a white glazed terracotta by Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525); and a ciborium in glazed polychrome, thought to be from the workshop of the Della Robbia.
The Parish Church of Stia is also interesting, with a glazed terracotta depicting the "Madonna and Child with St. Roch and St. Sebastian" by Santi Buglioni and dating from the 16th century.
Inside the "Florentine palace", one time residence of the Guidi Earls from Palagio, there is a collection of Contemporary Art which includes paintings and sculptures by contemporary Tuscan artists such as Pietro Annigoni, Remo Brindisi (1918-1996), Mino Maccari (1898-1989), Ottone Rosai (1895-1957), and Bruno Saetti (1902-1984).
Close to Stia at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, dating from the 15th century, there are some terracotta works that are also by Andrea della Robbia. Near the church there is the cloister of the monastery. In the village below the castle of Porciano there's the old parish church of San Lorenzo, rebuilt in the 17th century.
Lake of the Idols
Located south of Mount Falterona, the small Lake of the Idols is the most interesting archaeological site in the Casentino. Very important artefacts from the cult of the Etruscans have been found here including many votive offerings, hence the site being called the "Lake of the Idols".
Hundreds of bronzes have also been recovered, some of which are now preserved in the British Museum in London and the Louvre in Paris.
Considerable interest was aroused by the discovery of 10 stone and gold artefacts depicting a bull protome and some bead necklaces made of glass. The bronze artefacts depict eyes, hearts, legs, feet, arms and hands and the statues date from the period between the sixth and fourth centuries BC.
Tradition and cuisine in Stia
From the twelfth century onwards Stia was an important centre for the manufacture of wrought iron. This tradition is maintained today with the a famous international Biennal taking place here. From the 19th century onwards Stia was also an important center for wool processing.
A visit to Stia is also an excellent opportunity to enjoy the local products. One to try in particular is the so-called "Tortello" which is a traditional dish of potatoes made here and elsewhere in the Casentino region.
See also Stia history and etymology.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Tuscany guide.