The small medieval town Vinci is best known
as Leonardo’s birth-place, one of the largest geniuses of the Renaissance.
As contemporary of Michelangelo, Botticelli and Giotto he was not only
famous as an exceptionally gifted painter (Mona Lisa), but also far ahead
of his time as researcher, inventor, master-builder and engineer.
Vinci’s rural character can be experienced still today. It is surrounded
by olive groves at the southern slopes of the Montalbano-mountain range
and interrupted by vineyards where the grapes for the incomparable and
agreeable Chianti are cultivated.
Accommodated in the medieval castle of the counts Guidi, the Museo Leonardino
shows one of the most comprehensive and original collections of machines
and models of the inventor, technologist and engineer Leonardo. A few
smaller museums and private collections, numerous places of interest such
as Leonardo’s birth house in Anchiano, his baptistery Santa Croce
and many churches and architectural monuments in the surrounding - being
worth a visit - represent diversified excursion destinations. Vinci and
its surrounding is moreover an ideal starting-point for going to the most
important Tuscan towns of art and culture such as Florence, Pisa, Lucca,
Pistoia, Siena, San Gimignano and to the sea. Nature lovers will find
magnificent hiking trails and biker routes in the protected landscape
of Montalbano and the nearby marshlands of the Padule of Fuccecchio. The
town itself offers to you numerous restaurants, bars and little shops
with all culinary products desired by the tourists.
is not only the largest town in the Tuscany, but also accommodates most
of the overwhelming treasures of art and culture. Above all the cathedral
(the third largest of Italy behind Rome and Milan and the fourth largest
of Europe) with its impressive dome and the elegant campanile of Giotto
is famous. You should not miss to ascend the dome from where you can enjoy
a great panoramic view overlooking the town at the river Arno and the
surrounding hills. A further must is the visit of the Palazzo Vecchio
on the Piazza della Signoria with Michelangelo’s David at the entrance
portal and the Neptune fountain. For art lovers it is of course indispensable
to visit the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most important collections of
art and painting throughout the world. To avoid a culture shock, you should
not do everything on one day! Florence is a highly vibrant city with elegant
shops, inviting cafés and restaurants, but also with numerous tourists.
It is recommendable to go by train to Florence boarding for example in
Empoli or Pistoia. If you go by car, it will be the best to use the underground
parking of the main station (sufficiently signposted with “Stazione“).
From the station the historical city centre with the shopping mall can
be easily reached in walking distance within a few minutes. On Sundays
and at lunchtime most of the shops are closed.
It is a medieval cultural city with cathedral and the famous Campo, a
central place lined with cafés and restaurants, where people meet.
Twice a year a spectacular horse race, the famous Palio, takes place here.
The most known place of interest is the cathedral, which is considered
as the most beautiful Gothic monument of Italy. Leaving from spacious
parking-places at the gates of the old town – for example at the
Fortezza – the historical centre can be reached in walking distance
within short. If more time is available, you should not use the express
way to go to Siena, but you should go there via the picturesque Chianti.
Taking the traditional Chiangiana (SS 222) which starts in the south of
Florence, you can experience first-hand the hilly landscape of the Chianti
with its vineyards and the home of the Gallo Nero. We recommend you to
have a short stop and walk in the lovely Castellina in Chianti. The Chiangiana
will directly lead you to the gates of the city Siena.
than most of the Tuscan towns, Pistoia has preserved the rather dark atmosphere
of the Middle-Ages. The austere beauty of the historical town centre with
its numerous squares, churches and palaces is waiting to be discovered
by you. Wednesday and Saturday are market days in the old town of Pistoia,
while the vegetable market in a small, well preserved square with numerous
genuine shops, which mostly offer culinary products, is held every day.
Parking-spaces outside the town centre are well signposted and mostly
subject to fees.
doesn’t know the leaning tower? After many years of attempts to
save it from falling over it has now been released again for visitors.
But also the other impressive monuments of the historical town centre
witness the long history of this trade city which was originally right
beside the sea and founded by the Greeks. Today Pisa is a very vibrant
university city in which also Galileo Galilei studied in the 16th century.
Long sand beaches in Marina di Pisa at the estuary of the river Arno and
in Tirrénia invite you to go bathing.
can escape from the morbid, nostalgic charm of Lucca. Thanks to the closed
town wall – existing since the 16th century and being the largest,
completely preserved town wall of Europe – the historical townscape
could be preserved. Today the “town of 100 churches“, in which
Puccini was born in the middle of the 19th century, accommodates numerous
elegant, mostly touristic shops and boutiques. In any case it is worth
visiting the old narrow streets and the Piazza Anfiteatro – a former
Roman arena - , where lions were fighting with gladiators. Furthermore
you should not miss to climb the Torre Giunigi with its very old evergreen
oak on the roof, where you are given a spectacular view to the town and
its surroundings. Advice for a particular sightseeing tour: Go by bike
on the wide town tall with its beautiful trees. From time to time small
streets lead into the town, where it is best to walk or go by bike. You
should park the car at the town wall. Bicycles can be rented.
third largest Tuscan town has always owed its wealth and vitality to the
textile industry. Although Prato is somewhat in the shade of its famous
sister Florence, the town is worth being visited as well. The medieval
appearance of the historical old town could be preserved. Apart from accommodating
numerous art treasures, it is an attractive shopping city. Motorists are
recommended to park their cars outside the town wall.
is known as “Manhattan of the Middle-Ages“ or more appropriately
the “town of the beautiful towers”. 25 of the former 72 towers
of the 13th century – monuments of power, quarrel and craving for
status – were left in the 16th century. Those towers which were
still left in the 20th century were partly destroyed by the German artillerists
who re-conquered the town occupied by the allies in 1944. In the end 15
of these impressive towers – one higher than the next one –
are still available. The medieval townscape of San Gimignano could be
preserved till today and deserved to be declared World Cultural Heritage
by UNESCO. Every year millions of tourists are flocking to this small
town in which only 7000 people are living. Nevertheless a visit is worthwhile
as magnificent churches, palaces, museums and squares with fountains are
waiting for you at close quarters. The cars have to be parked outside
the town walls, mostly subject to fees.
30 km away from San Gimignano you will find Volterra, the defiant medieval
town, which is surrounded by a city wall from the Etruscan era. Churches,
squares, museums at close quarters are witnesses of a thousands-of-years
old history. People interested in history are invited to pay a visit to
the eminent Etruscan museum. While the town originally owed its wealth
to extensive copper deposits, it is nowadays more known for alabaster
which can be bought in all forms – vases, lamps and even Michelangelo’s
David in mini-size. Also in case of Volterra the cars need to be parked
outside the town wall.
to its close relation to the German history, San Miniato had the surname
„al Tedesco“ till the Second World War. Among others, Friedrich
II. had an emperor’s castle built, from which only the tower had
been left. After a German officer of all people had blown up this remnant
from the history-charged 13th century during the Second World War, the
town has preferred refraining from the surname. The tower was re-built
and now offers a gigantic panoramic view to the surrounding, the Montalbano-mountain
range and the valleys of the Elsa and Arno. San Miniato with its exposed
position on a hill offers interesting impressions of the past. Examples
of the rich history are exhibited in smaller museums. Pretty bars and
beautiful restaurants invite you to have a rest there. Every year a truffle
festival takes place on the three last November week-ends. At this occasion
truffles as well as products and dishes of the regional white truffles
the turn of the century the “Baden-Baden of the Tuscany“ with
its magnificent hot springs and palace hotels represented a meeting-point
of the European high society. As the largest Italian health resort accommodates
1,7 million guests every year, hotels and spas dominate the town picture.
Attractive spa gardens, elegant shops, cafés and restaurants won’t
allow boredom to develop. The medieval Montecatini Alto is located on
the hill above the town, granting a breathtaking view. The Piazza lined
with bars and restaurants will convey a sense of Italian lifestyle. Montecatini
Alto can easily be reached by car. Going by the rack railway, the Funicolare,
however, is a very special event.
picturesque mountain village Collodi is located in the west of Pistoia,
near to Péscia. Most of the visitors arrive to pay a visit to the
“Parco di Pinocchio“, which is interesting not only for children.
The stories of the most famous Italian children’s book were translated
into 80 languages and filmed several times. For sure there is nobody who
doesn’t know the coloured wooden puppets with the long noses, which
can be bought in all possible forms. Walking in the park, the large and
small visitors will experience Pinocchio’s adventurous world.
is hardly any other town name throughout the world which is so closely
linked to its product: marble. Without the marble of Carrara neither the
leaning tower of Pisa nor the magnificent Italian cathedrals nor Michelangelo’s
David would have come into being. Carrara is located in a green basin
below the Apuan Alps with its white quarries shining over a long distance.
As the nostalgic town centre will be explored within short, there will
be sufficient time left to pay a visit to the sea in La Spezia or Viareggio.
will find a beautiful beach at no charge in Migliarino „Marina Torre
di Mare“ near Pisa. How to get there: Take the A 11 via Montecatini
or Pistoia to Pisa North. At the exit turn left towards Pisa, go straight
on for approx. 2 km, then turn right below the railway and go several
kilometres towards the sea. Several kiosks and beaches are available there.
Another alternative to get there: Take the FI-PI-LI (express way towards
PISA), pass through Pisa and then take direction towards Migliarino. Go
on as described above. Magnificent beaches are also available in Tirrenia
As the permission to take dogs to the beach is very often invalidated
by the municipalities resp. as the situation is repeatedly changing, we
regret to no longer be able to recommend any dog beaches. If it is permitted
at all to take dogs, then only at the so-called „beaches at no charge“.
Another wide beach at no charge is awaiting you in Torre di Lago.
Go there via Empoli, take the FI-PI-LI towards Pisa, change to the motorway/A12
towards Genoa and leave at the exit Torre di Lago. In the town turn left
at the 1st traffic light, pass the subway and go straight on the main
street to the beach “La Pineta“. On the left-hand side parking
spaces are available. Alternative route: Starting from Montecatini Terme
resp. Pistoia – take the A11 towards Pisa, change to the A12 towards
Genoa and go on as described above.
- Spiaggia Dog Beach San Vincenzo Via della Principessa, 57027 San Vincenzo
This dog beach is equipped with everything required by the four-legged
friends and its owner.
Swizzerland of Pescia
mountain valleys called “La Svizzera Pesciatina” are located
in the north of Pescia and give a strange impression of the Tuscany due
to their dense broadleaf- and conifer forests, hills and mountains, narrow
streets and lonesome villages. All characteristic villages in the form
of castles – the “Castella“ - , originate from the year
1000. They are surrounded by a wall and located on top of a strategically
important hill. Pietrabuona – the starting-point – is followed
by Medicina, Fibbialla, Aramos, Sorana and Castelvecchio with its Roman
parish church dedicated to Saint Thomas. Following Stiappa you will reach
Pontito, the northernmost and terraced castle village with steep narrow
stairs and concentrically arranged streets. In Vellano, the main city
of the Svizzera Pesciatina, you have a last chance to enjoy the great
view to the landscape.
- mountains of Pistoia
the Tuscan border to the Emilia-Romagna the Ximeniana (or Strada del Brennero,
SS12) leads towards Modena via the Abetone Pass. Taking the SS64 you will
arrive at Porretta Terme and Bologna. Since time immemorial these connections
via the Apennines have been trade routes and military road – Hannibal
is told to have crossed the Apennines with his elephants in the northeast
As the mountains of Pistoia are real mountains – with Cimone, the
highest mountain having a height of 2165 m – an important winter
sports area has developed here. Abetone (1388 m) at the utmost extremity
of the Tuscany is the most famous winter sports resort of Central Italy.
Since 1936 when the first skiers had come here, Abetone – international
competitions take place here - has developed to a skiing centre with 40
slopes, skiing schools and lifts.
In summer numerous hikers and summer visitors are attracted by this well-forested
region to escape from the heat in the lowlands.
von Pistoia 50 km, von Pisa 85 km und von Modena 96 km.
An attractive open-air pool, an indoor swimming-pool as well as a modern
fitness centre including sauna can be visited in Larciano, directly at
the exit of Lamporecchio towards Montecatini.
In Empoli at the river Arno an open-air swimming-pool is located close
to the stadium; see the signpost “Piscina“.
The pretty small swimming-pool in the country-side can be reached via
Vinci. At the traffic light take the way to Vitolini and go straight on
towards Carmigniano, Poggio a Caiano. On your way you will find the signpost
“Piscina“ on the right-side in the forest.
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