Top five cities within a 60-minute drive
Romantic Lucca (20 minute drive)
Lucca is a living remembrance of past times, kingdoms and dominions. It is situated in a green valley and the medieval city centre is known for its intact city walls which encircle the old town and are wide enough to walk or cycle on. Stroll through the narrow (often car-free) streets and experience the splendour and magnificence of the Cathedral of St. Martin, Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the beautiful Church of San Michele in Foro and the Guinigi Tower with trees growing on top of it, just to name a few. Also, enjoy the numerous high quality restaurants and don’t forget to eat some ice cream at Gelateria Veneta!
Viareggio beach (45 minute drive)
Viareggio is also known as the pearl of Versilia, The beach is beautiful, wide, clean and well-equipped. It is ideal for swimming and is best experienced with a leisurely seaside stroll down the boulevard. The grand hotels, villas, and cafes are characterized by Art Nouveau style and the port looks like a showcase for luxury yachts. South to Viareggio, you’ll find Parco di Magliarino. This park covers 23 km of coastline, dunes, forests and the lake Lago di Massaciuccoli.
Firenze’s cultural heritage (60 minute drive)
Firenze is the capital of the region of Tuscany and was the cultural and intellectual heart of Europe until the 1730s. The city is full of renaissance artworks, mostly commissioned by the influential Famiglia di Medici. The historical center of Firenze is very compact and most of the major attractions are within walking distance of one another. Don’t miss out on the Duomo e Uffizi, the Santa Croce church, famous Ponte Vecchio and the Boboli gardens.
Cinque Terre – UNESCO World Heritage (60 minute drive)
Cinque Terre is a picturesque, rocky coastal line which covers a stretch of about 15 km between Levanto and Reviera di Levante. The name refers to five villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore), some of them built into the walls of towering cliffs. Besides their spectacular location, the villages are also known for their authentic atmosphere, delicious wines and fresh seafood. Tip: Park your car at the Levanto station and go to Riomaggiore by train. This ride offers spectacular views!
Pisa’s squares and terraces (45 minute drive)
Pisa is known for its leaning tower and the Duomo. They are nice to see, but Pisa has much more to offer. Most major attractions are around Campo dei Miracoli, the oldest part of the city. We mostly like Pisa because of its cosy squares and terraces outside this touristic centre!
Six activities you don’t want to miss!
Walking through the Brancoli forests
The forest and hills in the Brancoli region offer spectacular walking trails. From the house you can make a nice loop by walking down the road past the church, which takes you to an adventurous donkey path and leads you down through the forest. You can walk back on a paved road (approximately 3 hours). You can also walk up and make a right after the cemetery, where a beautiful gravel path will lead you back to Ponte a Mariano. Prepare before you go!
Restaurants Da Tosca and A Palazzo (10 minutes)
Go and eat at Da Tosca and A Palazzo. At always pleasantly busy Tosca, you’ll be welcomed by Paolo and eat a pizza cooked in a wood fired oven for only € 6. A Palazzo is a classic with a wonderful terrace. The homemade ravioli and Bistecca Fiorentina, traditionally cooked on a grill, are highly recommended! Also visit Sonia’s bar for a caffè and local tips!
Wine and olive oil route
Around Lucca, Montecarlo and Versilia you’ll find the ‘Strada del vino e dell’olio’. This is an excellent trail where you’ll find several farms that produce and sell wines and olive oils. Discover and taste the most wonderful DOC wines from the Montecarlo hillside, the DOP certified olive oil of Lucca and the most delicious cheeses. Before I forget: booking a bike tour is possible as well!
Esselunga (20 minute-drive)
The Esselunga is a big grocery store in Ponte a Mariano. It has all you need and you can buy delicious snacks, fresh fish, vegetables and wines here. Buy big and enjoy a delicious aperitivo followed by a bbq on the Casa Fresca terrace! Down the mountain near the river, you will find another a small alimentari with almost all basic supplies and delicious salsiccia!
Events and Festivals in the area
Mother’s day, Easter and Christmas are the most important holidays in Deccio di Brancoli. People also celebrate a summer festival, pizza evenings and a real Tombola where dozens of pies are baked, sold and mainly eaten by the whole village. On the third Sunday of the month, Lucca hosts a large antique fair, and on the last Sunday of every month it hosts a crafts fair. The Lucca Summer Fesitval is held in July, where the stage hosts national and international bands and famous singers. One of Lucca’s most important annual events is held in September, where the city celebrates it’s patron saint, the Volto Santo, with fireworks, large markets, a film festival and a procession!
Abetone (50 minute-drive)
Abetone is the most important skiing resort of Central Italy. It consists of 54 km of slopes in four valleys, 21 ski lifts and a peak at 1950 m. Try slopes as ‘Stucchi’ and ‘Pulicchi’, but also the ‘Zeno’ piste in Val di Luce, designed by Abetone’s former skiing champion Zeno Colò.