When Sebastian and I visited Tuscany for the first time we understood why there are so many films that take place in this amazing Italian region. We visited several villages and was love at first sight, I made a promise to myself that I would retire there in a house by the hills drinking Chianti and eating prosciutto all day long.
During a trip to Rome, Venice and Florence (we left the kids at home this time, don’t judge us please…) we decided to spend 2 days touring around Tuscany. The first day we planned to visit San Romano, Pisa, Lucca and Montecatini and then go back to Firenze. San Romano is a small and unknown town for most turists but what got us there was my husband’s roots. Seba’s grandfather was born in this town and his family pharmacy is still there though no longer belongs to the family. We had some trouble finding the place because nobody in the family had the exact coordinates but when we did, what a joy! We got inside and introduced ourselves in the little italian I speak and the actual owners where kind enough to gave us a tour and even show us some old family pictures that they kept as a part of the history of the shop. Then at the door of the house located next to the pharmacy we could se the intials of Vincenzo Mannelli my husband’s great granfather.
Baring all that emotion with us, we continued our journey to Pisa, with the ilusion of seeing one of Italy’s most famous monuments. We got our tickets and went up to the top of the bell tower to admire the beautiful landscapes. You may think otherwise but, as easy as was going up, getting down was really tricky, with spiral stairs and the tower inclination it feels like you have too much drinks and you may loose your balance. After (or before) visiting the tower you can also visit the other buildings at the square like the Cathedral, the baptistery, the cemetery and Delle Sinopie Museum. Feel free to take all the goofy pictures holding the tower, don’t be embarrassed everybody is doing it as well.
After touring Pisa we got on our way to Lucca and arrived almost at sunset, we had a
coffe at Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro and then we wander around this beutiful town and then surprisingly run into Giacomo Puccini’s statue at Piazza Cittadella, I honestly didn’t know he was born at Lucca.
When we left Lucca the sun had been gone for hours but we still decided to stick to our original plan and have dinner at Montecatini, a town that is known for its hot springs. The springs were closed upon our arrival of course, but we went up a long mountain road (by car obviously) to get to a little and cozy downtown full of picturesque restaurants. The stone streets and the warmth of its people made an unforgetable dinner. By daylight the views must be breathtaking, however it was a full moon and we could see the lights of other small towns splashing all the dark mountains. In total we traveled 120 miles that day, it’s not a long ride, but it took us all day because we got the chance to really experience every town at our own pace.
For day #2 we planned to visit San Giminiano, Volterra and Siena returning again to Florence for a good night sleep. The total itinerary was about 140 miles, a little bit longer than the day before but with Italian music at full volume and the farytale landscapes they flew by. Once in San Giminiano we fell madly in love with this medieval town with stone streets and buildings with red tiled roofs. I feel specially bewitched by places that take me to another era, I always say I’m an old soul and sites with lots of history make me feel happy and melancolic at the same time. At one of the town’s piazza we ate a gelatto that tasted like a happy childhood. After touring for a while and taking some pictures (not as great as I would like them to be, now that I have a travel blog) we got on our way to Volterra. Another dreamy village, now a little more famous because it was one of the filming locations for the Twilight saga (the meanest vampires were called the Volturi and lived in Volterra of course). Volterra also took me to a medieval era, but when I looked outside the walled city I could travel a little further in time, because at the foot of the wall we spoted the ruins of a Roman anphitheatre.
We left behind this amazing real life filming set to our last destination of the day, Siena. We Wanted to visit the place that is home of a medieval horse race that still runs, the Palio of Siena, but I have to say we couldn’t achieve it. A second after we stepped out of the car the sky went dark and a courtain of heavy rain got us all soaked up in just a few minutes. We ran to a coffe shop at Piazza del Campo and stayed there for a while to wait until the storm decided to leave. One hour and two capucchinos later, it was still pouring and the sun was long gone, we figure it wasn’t the right time to meet this town that so many travelers love. Still sopping, we bought two pairs of dry socks in order to avoid catching a cold, turned on the car heat to the maximum and got back to Florence. Siena we will meet again in a more benevolent weather, I’m sure of it.
Which other Tuscany villages would you recommend to visit?
Ticket: 18 euros
Time: 9 a 19 hs.
Montecatini Hot Springs