Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, home to the world heritage sites of Florence, Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano and the Medici villas, a place of landscapes bathed in light so beautiful they seem unreal – it’s no surprise that Tuscany is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of visitors each year.
But there’s another Tuscany, one where you can escape the crowds and chance upon unspoilt hilltop villages and revel in the astonishing flavours of Italian home cooking in a truly local restaurant, where even the simplest combination of ingredients elicits disbelief at how something so modest can taste so good…
This is a Tuscany where you can find traditional estate vineyards and be warmed by the finest wine you’ve ever tasted, while standing on the very earth that brought it into existence.
It’s a place where you can find cheeses and porcini mushrooms that ignite the senses, a place where you can soak up intensely aromatic olive oil with freshly baked bread that’s a million miles away from anything you’ve ever bought in a supermarket, a Tuscany where glorious vistas unfold before your eyes as you crest a mountain road…
Discovering the real spirit of Tuscany is all part of the experience of a holiday at Casa di Nonnas and our expert local knowledge will help you get the most out of your stay.
To experience the real spirit of Tuscany is quite simply to fall in love.
A short drive from Casa di Nonnas, Lucca is a beautiful walled city, birthplace of composer Giacomo Puccini and first colonised by the Romans in 180 BC.
The historic centre within the walls still preserves the rectangular grid of the Roman street plan, though the earliest inhabitants were the Etruscans. Traces of the old Roman amphitheatre can still be seen in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.
The old city walls are in tact to this day and although used for car racing in the early 20th century they are now used predominantly by pedestrians and cyclists.
Must-see places on your Lucca bucket list should include the Guinigi Tower, the Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro (pictured below) and of course, a walk or cycle ride around the walls.
The nearest town to Casa di Nonnas, the roots of Pescia can be traced back to around 1000AD when it developed into an important centre of agriculture.
Pescia thrived on its production of paper and silk and although these industries are now in decline, there is still an ancient paper mill at nearby Pietrabuona that produces paper using traditional techniques. Horticulture is now one of Pescia’s mainstays and the area is renowned for its flowers.
Continuing on the road beyond Casa di Nonnas will take you to Vellano, one of the most important fortified towns in the Pescian mountains, where the remains of the town’s walls are still visible.
A beautiful town of old style grandeur built around its mineral water springs, Montecatini Terme’s success began during the early 20th century with the growing interest in spa treatments.
Restaurants, hotels, theatres, bars and even a casino thrived on the great influx of tourists and from the late 1800s to the early 1900s the town gained international renown as it became a fashionable destination for the aristocracy and celebrities such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini.
Montecatini Terme is now one of the most popular destinations in Italy for thermal spa tourism and is home to many shops, cafés, boutiques and restaurants.
High above the town is the hilltop village of Montecatini Alto (pictured below) – an historic funicular railway runs up to the village where there’s a small castle, three churches, a lovely town square with restaurants and outdoor cafés, shops and stunning views over the surrounding countryside