This September, We will be staying at a villa about halfway between Lucca and Viareggio. We’ll have a car.
I’m interested in your thoughts on fun things to do, day trips, food and wineries that might be fun.
Group is 10 adults but we could split up and do things separately. Winery emphasis on fun and ambiance rather than super serious geeking out.
We’ll also have some time at the end for just Jules and I to split off. Right now thinking revisiting Florence but I’d be open to other compelling ideas. I’ve never been to the coast, for example.
Well Pisa is an obvious option, though it’s both a mass tourism blighted hellhole and an under the radar gem. Approach the field of miracles from the city / via Maffi side and you’ll avoid the worst of the blight and don’t ignore the city itself, which does have charm. There are some more comments on another recent thread. If they’re displaying the recently discovered triremes from Pisa’s excavated port, then that might appeal.
Livorno appealed to me, as a non-touristy place with an interesting seafood dish ‘Cacciucco’, but we never actually made it there (n.b. I do enjoy good solid regional Italy to the tourist hotspots)
Cinque Terre very much in range, as are the marble mines at Carrara. As you’ll have a car, then exploring places like Bagni di Lucca might appeal
Sorry I don’t know nearby wineries, though Lunae Bosoni wines are well worth trying (I’ve no idea what they’re like for visiting - they’re between Massa and La Spezia).
Lucca itself is good, and with a very interesting wine shop.
We went to San Miniato for their (November) truffle festival, which wasn’t as engaging an experience as either Alba or the tiny one we went to in Emilia Romagna (Pianoro), and it would be intriguing to know if it shines more outside of that festival. It felt like it would have some charm.
The Italian Riviera- Portofino, Santa Margarita, Camogli, Porto Venere.
The plan so far is to spend 2-3 nights in Lucca before the villa opens up and then spend 2-3 nights in Florence on the way out of Italy
That may seem overkill since the villa is near Lucca, but I’m particularly interested in soaking up the vibe and it’s not Super convenient on those roads.
You’re so close to Viareggio it’s worth a trip for lunch at least.
How far are you willing to drive? Conscious the Chianti Classico zone is 90 minutes from Lucca. If you’re up for the trip I might recommend heading towards San Gimignano/Poggibonsi and stopping by Az.Ag. Campochiarenti. Something different.
Should be a decent amount of festivals going on in the small surrounding towns in September.
I would recommend going to Carmignano, the home of the original Super Tuscan wines (Cabernet was planted there in the 1800s), and not too far from Lucca. I don’t remember the name, but there was a lovely restaurant off the main piazza that had an amazing goat shank dish I had back in 2006. Not sure if it’s still there, but the town and wineries are definitely worth a visit.
The home is almost halfway btw Lucca and Viareggio. The closest town looks like Compignano. We absolutely would be up for a trip to Viareggio. I had written it off as a beach with a city attached which doesn’t appeal, but I’m showing my ignorance. I’ll dig deeper.
We had even considered going up to the Cinque Terre since I haven’t seen them and the idea of seaside hiking sound great. I know they’re loved to death, but maybe in late September it’ll be a bit quieter?
As far as wineries go, I’m kinda resigned to enjoying decent local wines and soaking up the vibe at an evocative and fun winery. Our group isn’t really “into” wine and I’d hate to drag everyone 2 hours to a place where they might not even like the wines. We’ll find a tourist-friendly winery nearby the villa and the group will love it.
I kinda want to stay under 2 hour one way. Vernazza is about that, plus it’s an easy train ride. I’ve been to San Gimignano so probably won’t head there.
And yes, lots of harvest festivals that time of the year. There’s a donkey palio LOL at one. I sent the group a few options and we’ll know more as the date draws closer.
Probably busy still, but still enjoyable. If it gets too busy and you want to escape the feeling of being on a conveyor belt, then head uphill on one of the inland walks e.g Riomaggiore to Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero. Unless the coastal paths are closed, these inland walks are virtually deserted, and they make for a nice change of scenery, from somewhat exposed, through to cooling woodland.
p.s. It looks like the nearby Tenuta Mariani winery may be ideal for a non-wine crowd who want an ‘experience’, especially if they have one of their evening events on, which look fair value indeed. Nonetheless, as a wine hobbyist, grapes grown in sight of the sea should hold some interest as a more unusual ‘terroir’.
If you want to spend a day at the beach you can go to Forte dei Marmi , Gilda is great for lunch and you can rent a cabana for the day . Also go to Pietrasanta and Viareggio. The marble quarries near Carrara are also super cool to visit and offer incredible views