The most beautiful villages of Tuscany - part2

In this second part about the Most Beautiful Villages of Tuscany we visit the most beautiful villages of the provinces of Pisa and Lucca.

I Borghi più Belli d’Italia
Italy has hundreds of beautiful villages, small jewels to visit, both inland and at the seaside. The most beautiful villages can be found in the guide to the 271 Most Beautiful Villages of Italy, I Borghi più Belli d’Italia 2017*. Twenty of these villages are located in Tuscany, three in the province of LUCCA (Barga, Castiglione di Garfagnana and Coreglia Antelminelli) and one in the province of Pisa (Montescudaio).

The town of PISA is world-known for its leaning tower. The Square of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli) is one of the main attractions in Tuscany.

Montescudaio
Montescudaio
MONTESCUDAIO is situated 63 km south of Pisa. The fact that Montescudaio belongs to the most beautiful villages of Tuscany is very exceptional, because the village was destroyed twice by an earthquake in the 19th century. Most buildings were completely rebuilt after the second earthquake, such as the Oratory of the Announcement and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church. From the square in front of the church there is a breathtaking view of the sea and the scenic valley of Val di Cecina.

Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church, Montescudaio
Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church, Montescudaio
Every year during the month of september a procession is held with the statues which survived the earthquakes. The procession goes from the Oratory to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary church. On this occasion the village is decorated with white roses.

The province of Lucca is so much more than just the town of LUCCA, the city with 100 churches, where the Festival Lucca Comics takes place every year. In the province of Lucca there are three of the 20 most beautiful villages of Tuscany.

Barga
Barga
BARGA is a small town close to Lucca. It has an old historical centre which is surrounded by medieval walls, with narrow cobbled streets and old squares. The city gate Porta Reale bears witness to the glorious past of Barga.
Barga
Barga is known to be the most Scottish town in Italy. Many residents emigrated to Scotland in the twentieth century. After making their fortune, they returned to Barga, and brought along the Scottish traditions and customs. More than half of the population has Scottish roots. Every year the town hosts its very own Sagra del Pesce e Patate or Festival of Fish and Chips. One of the local dishes of Barga is zuppa di farro, a soup made from a type of wheat, emmer or hulled wheat.

CASTIGLIONE DI GARFAGNANA is located north of Lucca. The village is characterized by ancient city walls. There are three town gates: Porta Inferi, Porta del Ponte Levatoio* and Porta Nuova
Castiglione di Garfagnana
Through Porta del Ponte Levatoio you enter the historical centre and Piazza del Castello with the renaissance building Palazzo del Parlamento, which now houses the Town Hall, and Palazzo Nobili. The beautiful Saint Michael’s Church from the beginning of the 15th century and Saint Peter’s Church from 1197 are worth visiting. You can attend a medieval Festival in August with a pageant in medieval costumes. 
The typical dishes of Castiglione di Garfagnana are polenta di castagne, polenta made with chestnut flour and necci, chestnut flour pancake rolls.

Coreglia Antelminelli
Coreglia Antelminelli
COREGLIA ANTELMINELLI, a lovely hillside town, has a breathtaking view on the Apennine mountains of the province of Lucca. The Roman remains and the beautiful renaissance palazzi are in perfect harmony. A number of historic city gates give access to the ancient city center. Once inside it seems that time has stood still here. Coreglia Antelminelli was very well known for its Figurinai, figurine makers who made small plaster figurines. In Palazzo Vanni, you can visit the Museum of the figure makers. Castagnaccio is a typical dish of the village (pastries made with chestnut flour).

* The Guide "I Borghi più belli d'Italia 2017" is available only in Italian and is very hard to find outside of Italy.

Lucca Apartments with pool in Borgo a Mozzano Tuscany


Apartments Borgo a Mozzano


The most beautiful Villages of Tuscany - part1

Tuscany has a handful of big cities of art which are very popular with tourists (Florence, Siena, Pisa, ...), but there are also many less-known, wonderful, precious villages and towns with a typical Tuscan charm. One village is famous for its cheese or wine production, while in the other one you can find particular churches, squares and monuments. Others are beautiful because of their simplicity or their authenticity. Therefore we would like to focus on these less-known towns and villages. This is the first part.

In 2001 the Club of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy (I Borghi più Belli d'Italia) was founded through the incentive of the Tourism Council of the National Association of Italian Municipalities. The project arose from the need to promote the great heritage of history, art, culture, environment and traditions found in small Italian towns which are, for the most part, cut off from the main flow of visitors and tourists. Admission to the Club requires the meeting of a number of prerequisites, which are both structural, such as the architectonic harmony of the urban fabric and the quality of the public and private building heritage, as well as general, regarding the quality of life in the village in terms of activities and services for the people. It is also necessary to be committed to continuously improving these prerequisites. In these beautiful villages you will find the atmosphere, the fragrances and flavors which make typical local customs, products and traditions a way of life which is worth "savoring" with all five senses.

In all of Italy there are 271 member villages in the club of Most Beautiful Villages, of which 20 are located in Tuscany:
  • Barga, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and Coreglia Antelminelli(3) in the province of  LUCCA,
  • Scarperia (1) in the province of FLORENCE,
  • Montescudaio (1) in the province of PISA,
  • Anghiari, Castelfranco Piandiscò, Loro Ciuffenna, Raggiolo and Poppi(5) in AREZZO,
  • Suvereto (1) in the province of LIVORNO,
  • Buonconvento, Cetona, and San Casciano dei Bagni (3) in SIENA,
  • Giglio Castello, Montemerano, Pitigliano, Santa Fiora, Porto Ercole and Sovana (6) in GROSSETO.
Arezzo is one of the bigger cities in the region of Tuscany. The city is the capital of the homonymous province. Arezzo is a somewhat lesser known tourist stop in Tuscany. And yet five of the 20 most beautiful villages of Tuscany are located here.

Anghiari
Anghiari
ANGHIARI dominates the valley of the Tiber with its castles and imposing medieval walls. Thanks to its strategical position this border region of Tuscany is famous for numerous historic battles such as the battle between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Milan, which was commemorated in a magnificent but lost fresco by Leonardo da Vinci in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The annual traditional crafts fair attracts many tourists and craft lovers to Anghiari. In the town you can still feel the magic of the former medieval atmosphere, enjoy the spectacular panorama and the richness of the environment with the many churches and castles, the wooded landscapes and intact nature. But Anghiari is also a bustling town, with a rich cultural life, with theatre, folk traditions, love for literature and with a rich gastronomic tradition, real and full of flavor, such as the character of its inhabitants.

Castelfranco di Sopra
Castelfranco di Sopra
Within the city walls of CASTELFRANCO DI SOPRA you will find a wonderful mix of medieval and Renaissance styles. From the tower, Arnolfo Tower, you can enjoy a beautiful view of unusual rock formations or cliffs, called Le Balze. Leonardo da Vinci was very impressed by these mythical rock formations and he used them as a background in several paintings. The most famous painting with the Balze in the background is his masterpiece La Giocanda, better known as Mona Lisa. Don’t forget to visit the Abbey of San Salvatore.

Loro Ciuffenna
The beautiful old bridge over the river Ciuffenna is very characteristic of the picturesque village of LORO CIUFFENNA. The stone houses built on the banks of the river Ciuffenna, the small alleys and the old bridge, are witnesses of the middle ages, which have left their marks on the village. The bridge leads to the entrance gate with the Clock, from where you enter the most fascinating area of the village, which is built along just one single road, which crosses the village from east to west. The road leads to the second entrance gate on the road that leads to Arezzo. Many of the local dishes in Loro Ciuffenna are based on chestnuts. In November there is a local Festival or Sagra dedicated to the chestnuts. Another local speciality is a type of yellow-coloured beans, called fagiolo zolfino


Raggiolo
Raggiolo
RAGGIOLO, a small medieval mountain village with narrow streets and ancient city walls, is one of the most recently added to the list of the most beautiful villages. Raggiolo is a bit isolated and is surrounded by the beautiful forests of the Casentino region. It is situated at an altitude of 600m and 10 km from the regional road SR70 that crosses the Casentino region from Arezzo to the Consuma pass. The village is best known for its chestnuts. There is an Ecological Chestnut Museum, which is open from June to September. There is a chestnut festival, Festa della Castagnatura at the end of October.

Poppi Castle
Poppi Castle
POPPI is situated on a 400m hilltop that overlooks one of Tuscany’s most stunning valleys, the Casentino Valley. Poppi still has the looks of a medieval town. You can admire the castle, Castello dei Conti Guidi, one of the most beautiful castles of Italy. The 13th century building is known to be the prototype for the Town Hall of Florence Palazzo Vecchio. In August there is the annual folk festival in Poppi "Gusto dei Guidi". Here you can try the best Tuscan wines and delicious dishes from the Casentino region. During this event you can visit the many wineries and historic buildings.


Scarperia
Scarperia
Near Florence, the regional capital of Tuscany and one of the most famous and most beautiful cities in Italy, you can find SCARPERIA, a gorgeous little town in the Mugello area. Scarperia is famous for its production of knives. Here, unlike other places where knives were produced, the craft does not belong only to the past. It still represents a source of income for many craftsmen. The Museum of Cutting Tools documents the history of this widespread artisanal activity in Scarperia. On the first Sunday of each month there is a collector's market where antiques, second hand and collector's pieces, stamps and coins are exchanged.
Scarperia
Every last Sunday in May, Scarperia dresses itself in flowers for the traditional event Infiorata. This event requires lots of preparation and brings together all the inhabitants of the town. The streets of the hamlet are decorated with flower petals to form colorful patterns. The petals are arranged inside models made the night before by residents of the hamlet to a theme which changes every year. Other recurrent events in Scarperia are the Renaissance Day, the first Sunday of September, Diotto, the re-evocation of the founding of Scarperia by the Florentine republic on the 8th (die-octo) of September. Besides being one of Italy's most beautiful villages, Scarperia also boasts to have Italy's world famous racetrack Mugello Circuit, which hosts the Italian MotoGP.

Splendid Holiday Farm with pool in Tuscany in Castelfranco di Sopra

http://www.alba-toscana.eu/st/76

The wild boar driven hunt in Tuscany

Tuscany is the region with the largest wild boar population in Europe. The species are currently estimated at 200.000 and the Italian government wants to reduce that number to 50.000. Each autumn and winter, across the woods and hills of Tuscany, wild boar driven hunting season is open for about 3 months, but still it’s not enough to keep the wild boar population under control. 

The beaches of Elba Island

The Island of Elba has 147 kilometres of coastline and about 132 beaches of various types and sizes, long beaches of golden sands or tiny stones, equally beautiful beaches of black sand, white pebbles or cliff bases of smooth granite rocks.

Acquarilli Beach
Acquarilli Beach
Spectacular panorama and crystal clear water make these beaches similar to ones in the Caribbean. The depth of most of the waters increases rather rapidly, with the exception of la Biodola, Marina di Campo, Lacona and Procchio where the water remains shallow for up to 30-40 metres. Most of the island’s beaches are classifiable as "free". On the main beaches however, bathers will find privately run establishments that offer changing rooms, sun lounges and beach umbrellas on a rental basis. Furthermore, many of these establishments rent a range of equipment for various water sports.