SURROUNDINGS

The house is a little way north of Lucca just at the beginning of the Garfagnana national park. The Garfagnana hills are the foothills to the Alpi Apuani so the area north of us is full of heavily wooded valleys, stunning villages and some precipitous churches; good walking and skiing and mountain routes through to Modena and Parma.

The main town to the south is Lucca. Lucca is why we chose the area and is one of the great towns of Italy. The city walls are huge and intact. New buildings, hotel chains, McDonalds etc are not allowed within the city walls. Outside the city are a number of famous villas and gardens that are open to visitors.

And just south of Lucca is the famous town of Pisa. Less famous than the leaning tower but more beautiful and interesting are the Cathedral and the Baptistery on the same site – the Campo dei Miracoli.

There is a motorway connecting Lucca to Florence or just take the train. Florence speaks for itself

The famous hill towns of Tuscany are scattered in the countyside south of Pisa. The most famous is San Gimignano (which can be a bit touristy though is very special). Nearby is Volterra which is nearly as fine. There are so many others you lose track.

Needless to say there are many wine regions and towns to visit. The great Chiant area kicks off to the south east of Florence. Close to the house is Montecarlo (not to be confused with the casino town) which makes some of Tuscany’s finest white wines.

To the south are the great towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano. Both are stunning in their own right yet alone for wine tasting.

To the west (and once again either by motorway or train) there is a sequence of seaside towns – Viareggio, Forti dei Marmei etc. this is basically a very long stretch of beach and a promenade behind. Viareggio has a world famous carnival with huge floats every February.

Further north on the coast is an area called the Cinque Terre. This is a more rugged coast line with small fishing towns that have now become holiday resorts. Porto Fino is pretty classy; others such as Levanto are more homely. One can only be reached by boat or walking.

Or you could stay at the Villa.