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Tipps in our surroundings

 

Borgo a Buggiano

Our tiny hamlet is the perfect place to unwind and just take a break from the busy city life. You don’t even need to leave the Villa Sermolli, it offers many hideaways to enjoy the view over the sparkling lights of the valley with a glass of wine, get lost in a compelling book or simply stock on some sunshine on the terrace. Occasionally we offer wine tastings or cooking classes in the villa, you can make a bike tour, go for a walk alongside a serene brook or hike up and down the hills surrounding Buggiano Castello. Ask us for a trekking map or to rent our e-bikes. Active or lazy, buzzing or at ease, what’s at your taste?

 

Highlight:
During the “Campagna dentro le mura” the inhabitants open their Gardens to visitors. There are scenting blossoms, aromatic herbs, colourful flowerbeds and a lot of hospitality to discover. And lots of citrus fruits, which gave the town its name “Borgo agli agrumi”.

 

 

 

Neighborhood

Why look afield when there is so much close at hand? Next to the well known attractions you can explore some smaller towns nearby.
One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about Italy is wine. Being in Tuscany you should have at least one wine tasting, a charming place to do so is Montacarlo. The Tenuto di buonamico offers perfectly organized impressive tours, the Fattoria Carmignani Enzo a little more individual visits through their smaller vineyard.
You should also stop to see the villas around Capannori or Collodi, the origin of Pinocchio.

 

Our favourite place to be:
The garden of the Villa Garzoni, simply beautiful…

 

Our favourite place to eat:
The “Agriturismo Vecchio Olivo” is a pleasant old farmhouse with seats inside and outside. The view is splendid, the staff cordial and the prices very economic. Leave some space for a dessert – or two, they are gorgeous!

 

Highlight:
Reknown for its wine, the hilltop town hosts its Wine Festival every year, offering music, art exhibitions and wine tastings throughout Montecarlo, specifically in piazza D’Armi and piazza Garibaldi.

 

 

 

Montecatini Terme

Right next to Borgo a Buggiano you will find Montecatini. In time it was THE place to be for the rich and famous. And still is has a lot to offer.
Relaxing spa in the thermal springs (especially the Excelsior Terme) or a unique wellness experience at Grotta Giusti. Window shopping in the center, with some gorgeous ice cream in hand (from the Cioccolato & Company, ask for chocolate in the cone!) or chilling in the park.
You should also take the funicolare to Montecatini Alto. The ride itself is an experience, then you’ll have the view over the valley and then there is a whole town waiting for you on top of the hill. Churches, the clock tower, a small Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in the woods, tiny alleys and Italian flair at its finest.

 

Our favourite place to be:
Find a bench in the midst of nature behind the church Parrocchia S. Pietro Apostolo in Montecatini Alto. It’s not that hot, provides an amazing view and is only a few steps from the charming village.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
Funi1898“, it is stylish and still values its tradition. Perfectly located at the parting station of the funicular, they offer tasty aperitivo, antipasti and plenty of tasty food.

 

Highlight:
The “Montecatini Opera Festival” offers classic concerts, some even open air, in an impressive surrounding.

 

 

 

Pistoia

Pistoia is like a little Florence, not that big, not that buzzing, but even more charming. Don’t miss the churches, resembling the Duomo di Firenze without the waiting. See the market place and buy fresh local food, find your favourite restaurants and bars. Go shopping in all the small stores or simply stroll down the avenues. Maybe you want to stop for some ice cream?

 

Our favourite place to be:
The small Via della Torre, an enchanting arched way where you can find some hidden street art or take amazing pictures nevermind the weather.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
The “Pochi Intimi” is a little gem hidden between other restaurants in the Via del Lastrone, but oh so different. The owner loves to chat with his guests and proudly presents his homemade dishes. They might sound simple but each of them is thought through until the last bite. You can simply taste the love with which he is cooking.

 

Highlight:
During the “Pistoia Blues Festival” some big names will honour the small town.

 

 

 

Vinci

The famous “Leonardo da Vinci” is literally named “Leonardo from Vinci”, so where else would he be from than from Vinci in Tuscany? Visit his birth place, the museum – and as you are already there the surroundings, which are at least as worth seeing!

Here is a guide to a great day trip. Credits: visittuscany.com

 

 

 

San Miniato

San Miniato is a small town with quiet streets and secret corners.
What to see:
– The church of San Domenico with its unfinished façade in Piazza del Popolo to see the frescoes.
– The Cathedral or Duomo and the Matilde Tower, well known for its asymmetrical clock.
– Palazzo Vescovile, an episcopal palace from the 13th century.
– The Episcopal Seminary and Piazza del Seminario shaped like the winding ancient walls.
– Friederick’s tower, the prison of Pier delle Vigne as can be read in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
– Convent of San Francesco, said to be founded by Saint Francis of Assisi.

Even though the architecture is charming, San Miniato is especially famous for the food. Most important: truffle. Try some bistecca sprinkled by white truffle, accompanied by a local wine, it’s gorgeous! You can also go in a guided truffle hunt yourself.

 

Our favourite place to be:
At many medieval festivals you will find leather works from San Miniato and there is even a festival dedicated to this craft: the Palio di Cuoio. We love to discover the shops and small workshops.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
La Taverna dell’Ozio” – truffle and mushrooms. Absolutely fresh and regional, on plates or as tapas. What else is there to say? Even it doesn’t look like it on the first glimpse, it is one of the best.

 

Highlight:
The truffle fair, which gives an insight to better understand the product. And of course to taste it!

 

 

Firenze / Florence

Florence is buzzing city lifestyle, art and streetart, tradition, churches, shopping, full of life and sights. And also calm gardens, beautiful nature and atmospheric piazzas and cafés.

What everybody want to see – for good reasons:
– Duomo Piazza della Signoria
– Uffizi
– Ponte Vecchio
– Palazzo Pitti
– Santa Croce

What we think you should see, too:
– Galleria dell’Accademia (the original Davide)
– Galileo Museum
– Mercato di San Lorenzo
– Boboli Garden
– Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato a Monte

 

Our favourite place to be:
The water terraces “Fontane delle rampe del Poggi” on the way to the rose garden “Giardino delle rose“. Both are the perfect pause from the busy inner city, only a short walk away and offering a beautiful view onto Florence – for free.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
The “Carduccio“. If it’s hip to eat healthy and sustainable, so be it. The place is lovely to spend time at, the people are friendly and quick to chat about where their products are from, and the food is the proof that organic food is not only good for your conscience.

 

Highlight:
Pretty brutal, but nevertheless one of the main events each year: the “Calcio Storico“, a mixture of soccer, football, wrestling and entertainment program with an historic background.

 

 

 

Siena

Siena is one of THE cities of Tuscany, picturesque and full of history. The saying “the journey is the destination” is very much true for Siena, as already arriving there is going to take a while as you will have to stop for pictures every next step. The surrounding nature is stunning.

What you should see:
– The Piazza del Campo, formed like a shell, is the center of almost everything in Siena
– The dome Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta with its detailed facade
– The former town hall Palazzo del Pubblico and the bell tower. You can climb the 102m of the tower for an amazing view
– In the Museo Civico and Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala you will find art and frescoes if you have some time to spare
– Fortezza Medicea, not only for the building but also for the wine in the Enoteca Italiana
– The bottini tunnels, 25km and hundrets of years old (tours in spring and fall)
– Some fountains, e.g. Fonte Gaia, Fonte d’Ovile and Fonte del Casato
– Check which activities are announced when you are going. Siena offers many concerts, the Palio horse race, music festivals or themed guided tours

 

Our favourite place to be:
The “Key Largo” café, also it will be crowded and is one of the most obvious tourist’s tips. Still the tiny balconies and the view are truly sweet. And the espresso tastes like Italy.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
We can decide between the “La Sosta di Violante“, even though it is very traditional it is never boring …
… and the “Te Ke Voi“, which is slang for “what would you like”. Burgers and young atmosphere, everything very modern.

 

Highlight:
The “Palio di Siena” is one of the biggest historic events in Tuscany. The horse race is held in honour of religious traditions.

 

 

 

San Gimignano

The idyllic town feels like an open air museum. It is most famous for its 13 towers, this is why it is also called little Manhattan. The city itself is beautiful, but you should also make a small tour through the surrounding nature, which is perfectly typical for Tuscany. Or at least stop in some wineries to get some souvenirs to drink at home and revive the Italian dolce vita.

Our suggestion for a day trip:
Starting at the Piazza Martiri de Montemaggio
…through the main gate Porta San Giovanni
…along the Via San Giovanni with its shops and museums
…passing the church Resti Chiesa San Francesco
…and the first tower Torre dei Cugnanesi und Torre dei Becci
…you will arrive at the Piazza della Cisterna. The triangular plaza is built over the cisterns and often offers markets or fairs, a perfect spot for some local culture.
… Leaving it north you’ll get to the center, the Piazza del Duomo, the best place to take a break on the steps or climb the tower for an impressive view.
… Heading further north you can leave town through the Porta San Matteo gate.
This can take a day or only several hours.
If you still have time left, we’d recommend the panoramic hiking tour (8.8km) around town – better not leave your camera at home!

 

Our favourite place to be:
Rocca di Montestaffoli, an ancient castle ruin surrounded by a park to relax or have a romantic picnic with local Tuscan products (wild boar salami!) and a glass of wine.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
The “La vecchia mura” not only offers an amazing view from a beautiful garden, but also splendid Tuscan food and a warm welcome.

 

Highlight:
At the “Notti lucente” event dancers, writers, poets, musicians, actors, and artists of all kinds, from Italy and elsewhere, will get together for a magical night of theatre, art shows and installations, concerts and of course the illumination of the iconic towers.

 

 

 

Volterra

Volterra is a romantic small town overlooking a typical Tuscan valley. It is a shame that many only know it from the Twilight movies, as it has so much to offer:
– The entrance to the city: Porta all’Arco
– Teatro Romano / Teatro di Vallebona, the remnants of a Roman theatre
– The Piazza dei Priori is perfect for just letting the atmosphere sink in
– Fortezza Medicea, the iconic building on top of everything
– Duomo Santa Maria Assunta, built to be alike the Duomo in Florece
– Parco Archeologico for time travelers
– Palazzo Viti, a villa offering a stunning insight into the private life of its owner, the alabaster trader and traveler Giuseppe Viti

 

Our favourite place to be:
It’s pretty macabre, but an impressive spot for taking pictures: the Ex Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra, a former psychiatry which has been abandoned but is open to public. It is mostly visited by photographers taking black and white pictures of the slowly rotting interior – and allegedly some ghosts…

 

Our favourite place to eat:
The “Porgi l’altra Pancia“, actually a deli, but you can try everything and also get whole meals, which are truly delicious. The staff will be happy to recommend the matching wines. Sometimes there’s also live music to enjoy during your dinner.

 

Highlight:
One of the most famous medieval festivals is the “Volterra AD“, two nights of historic pageantry and a vast program to watch and take part.

 

 

 

Livorno

Livorno is mainly attractive at the second sight. Afar from shiploads of tourists you can find the most beautiful beaches, an atmosphere only a seaport city can offer, fresh fish and a long history.
So what is there to see?
– The Quattro Mori monument, just because it’s the first thing many see when they arrive
– Piazza & Terrazza Mascagni directly at the sea, great for romantic walks, especially during sunset
– The Acquario di Livorno next to it, offering an insight into the world of the ocean
– Buying fish at the Mercato Centrale di Livorno market, but you’ll need to be there early in the morning
– Fortezza Vecchi is an ancient fortress, guided tours lead you inside, but it’s already pretty just as a monument
– Romito, the cliff line with a breathtaking view onto the sea. Perfect for sunset pictures, but also worthwhile even at bad weather
– The pilgrimage church Santuario di Montenero, preferably reached by the funicular
– Rotini Art Gallery, home to paintings by local artists

 

Our favourite place to be:
Bagnoschiuma beach in Antignano, a pebble beach (don’t forget your sandals) where you can also go snorkeling a bit. Best not to go on Sundays because that is when Italian families crowd all their beaches.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
In carne“, a restaurant which is also a butcher shop. Sounds strange but guarantees fresh meat and staff who knows how to prepare it.

 

Highlight:
The “Effetto Venezia” is a festival full of art, concerts, culture and events. Initiated in the little Venice district, it now includes the whole city.

 

 

 

Pisa

Not to be missed is Pisa. Everybody knows pictures of the Leaning Tower, but seeing it life-sized still is worth it – and a little cliché photo is always fun. And then there’s more to the area than just a tower. You should enter at least one of the sacral buildings. Pisa is also an art-loving city and thanks to the student lifestyle full of cozy little spots and cafés. To recover from the inrush of tourists Pisa offers its calm side with gentle hills surrounding the city and stunning calm and almost untouched nature. Surprisingly nearby is the sea. Beautiful beaches to relax, a refreshing bath in the salty water and afterwards a fruity cocktail in a beach bar – what else could you need?

 

Our favourite place to be:
The botanic garden of the university, a calm island in the storm.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
For those who really love their food experience: the “Lunasia“. Maybe, in the end, you will ask yourself if this was a meal or art, but you will do so with an amazing taste in your mouth and feeling content.

 

Highlight:
June is a busy month for Pisa, so the best time for unforgettable experiences. The “Luminara” with candles, lights and firework, the “Regatta di San Ranieri“, a boat race honouring the patron saint and the “Gioco del Ponte”, the battle of the bridge, are spectacles you shouldn’t miss.

 

 

 

Lucca

Our favourite town nearby is Lucca, a combination of medieval charm and Italian dolce vita. It is already impressive to enter the ancient city through the old walls which once protected the citizens in times of war. Once inside you are greeted by warm and cordial people, individual shops all around Via Fillungo and alternative or traditional restaurants and many beautiful spots waiting to be discovered.

Must sees:
– Take a walk on top of the city wall. You can walk all around the city to already get a peak of what is waiting for you. The view is amazing and on many parts trees are shading the alley. Typical tourists rent a double-bike for this.
– You can have an even better view from above on one of the towers. There are combined and individual tickets, a great sight itself is the Torre Giunigi with trees growing on top of it.
– In Lucca you can eat all day. Local markets, caffè e dolce, aperitivo, homemade pasta – and of course ice cream, fancy with all kinds of toppings or casareccio plain and heavenly tasting.
– Simply an experience for art lovers is the “olio su tavola“, a gallery and restaurant.
– Almost all roads lead to the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a round plaza with a long history. And a great scenery for some pictures.

 

Our favourite place to be:
Sitting on top of the walls, with a refreshingly cold beer in one hand and playing cards with the other.

 

Our favourite place to eat:
Pizza da Felice“, a cozy little place, always crowded with locals and tourists, offering their pizza for many many years now. To unbeaten prices. Never has history been so tasty!

 

Highlight:
Those who know the Comic Con will also love “Lucca Comics“, a convention for comics, games and a whole lot of lovely nerd stuff. Cosplay and go! Everybody else can enjoy the “Lucca Summer Festival” with all kinds of concerts, pop, rock, classic, in a wonderful atmosphere. Famous singers and band go hand in hand with newcoming artists and local acts.

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