A journey in Tuscany
Tuscany... a postcard that makes you dream and makes you want to travel. It's a good thing we only need a few hours from the Côte d'Azur to discover - and fall in love with - these breathtaking landscapes which oscillate between green hills lined with cypress trees, olive groves and vineyards and majestic residences.
Tuscany is the land of artists, architects and writers of the Renaissance who left an indelible trace of their talents and whose churches, museums and art galleries are wonderful witnesses here. Tuscany is also the Dolce Vità, a life of pleasures for the senses, from tasty cuisine to gentle strolls through towns that look like film sets where time seems to stand still. Follow us on an artistic and gourmet escapade and embark with us to Pisa, Livorno and Arezzo, hoping to inspire you to escape on your first three-day weekend.
Pisa, the tower but not only...
If you leave like us in the morning, you will arrive in Pisa at lunchtime. The opportunity is too good to miss, head for the seaside at the port of Marina di Pisa for a gourmet stop with your feet in the water at the "Etoile" restaurant, where we can only recommend the fritto misto, a marvel, before continuing with a delicious plate of pasta (a classic that we never tire of in Italy) and, to finish gently, an Italian sorbet that is as delicious as it is refreshing. To sleep, the "Villa Tower Inn" is a little gem with a friendly atmosphere and welcoming staff located just a few steps from Piazza dei Miracoli. If you are lucky enough to have a room under the roof, a small skylight will offer you a view of the Tower of Pisa... from your bed. After the comfort, a little walking. The city of Pisa is well known for its tower, but it is also full of little treasures to discover. To make sure you don't miss any of them, we suggest you visit it with Chiara, a passionate and exciting guide of the "City Grand Tour" who speaks perfect French and will make you see the city in a new light with her historical anecdotes. From Piazza dei Miracoli to Piazza dei Cavalieri and Piazza Vettovaglie, let yourself be carried away by the charm of the place, the churches, the monuments and the museums, among which the San Matteo Museum with its works of art by the great Pisan and Tuscan masters from the 12th to the 17th century, or the Museum of the Ancient Ships, which presents ships in an exceptional state discovered in 1979 when work was beginning on the extension of Pisa station. For your information, Chiara also offers visits to theatrical performances in the city. A must! In the evening, the restaurant "La Pergoletta" is THE place to go for a treat: antipasti, Tuscan cured ham, tasty beef, delicious homemade desserts, it's a treat! Not forgetting, at the end of the meal, the famous espresso stretto italiano. The next day, we head for the "Rossore Park" which is located 10 minutes from Pisa. A real green lung, the park stretches along the coast over 24,000 hectares and is home to fallow deer, wild rabbits, wild boar, wolves and over 200 species of birds. At the heart of the park, the San Rossore Estate - once owned by the President of the Republic, and before him by the King of Italy - is an extraordinary and preserved place not to be missed. It seems that the possibility of renting the place for private events, or a professional seminar is currently being studied, so don't hesitate to contact the director of the park to discuss it with him if you want to impress your guests. Finally, for lovers of good products, you can't leave Pisa without passing by the pretty "Bottega del Parco" shop and its 100% natural delicacies.
Livorno, the little Venice
For the second stage of our Italian trip, we headed for Livorno and the Palazzo hotel, ideally located facing the sea. On its rooftop, we enjoy the passing of time with a chilled spritz in hand in the colours of the sublime sunset that is taking place right before our eyes. The next moment, we are on the Terrazza Mascagni, a paved promenade along the waterfront, for a pleasant stroll. Although it is known for its industrial port and cruise ships, it was the historic port of Livorno that caught our interest. From the dock of the old fortress, embark on a boat tour of the "Medici pits". With its canals and palaces, Livorno has that Venetian feel, but without the crowds. The area around the New Fort is known as 'Nuova Venezia'. In the small streets of this pretty district, at the "Ponceria" you can enjoy a local speciality made of coffee, rum and lemon zest: the "Ponce". To be consumed in moderation before bedtime if you want to sleep... It is also in the port of Livorno that you can try another local culinary speciality: the "cacciucco", a tasty and richly flavoured fish and seafood soup. Finally, you can't miss the Mercato Centrale, a magnificent building that houses around thirty shops and over 200 stands dedicated to gastronomy. And for an artistic stopover, the Museo della città located in the heart of Venezia Nuova offers an exhibition of historical urban objects and a gallery of contemporary art in a former baroque church.
In eastern Tuscany, the city of Arezzo is located in the middle of nature. Known all over the world for its antique fair, which takes place on the first Sunday of every month in the historic centre of the city, Arezzo is very popular with collectors, with over 400 exhibitors from all over Italy. A folkloric event is also typical of the city and attracts thousands of curious people: Giostra del Saracino (Buckwheat Joust) on the second last Saturday of June and the first Sunday of September. The Saracen Joust pits the four old quarters of the city of Arezzo against each other in the piazza grande and has its roots in the Middle Ages and commemorates the struggle of Western Christianity to contain the Muslim advance. The highlight of the event is the moment when the horsemen ride at full speed towards an armoured dummy representing the Saracen. A real spectacle! The city is also known for having hosted the shooting of the 1997 Oscar-winning film "Life is Beautiful" by Roberto Begnini. Don't hesitate to follow the guided tour to discover the different filming locations of this movie monster. After all these emotions, a break is necessary! Head to La Corte del Re, located in Arezzo's Piazza Grande. This charming establishment is housed in an ancient building that has retained some of its original Etruscan and medieval walls.
The city is full of treasures and places to visit, so we recommend that you put on your best footwear and stroll through the narrow streets of the old town and let the magic of the place enchant you. Don't forget to pass by the "Piazza Grande" for a little cappuccino break in this exceptional setting. Then, stroll to the House-Museum of Ivan Bruschi, collector of antiques with 3 floors of collection of all kinds of objects, the Museum of the Fraternity of the Laity and its surprising astronomical clock, the Basilica of St. Francis of Arezzo and its sumptuous frescoes by Piero della Francesca, the Archaeological Museum Gaio Cilnio Mecenate or the Fortezza Medicea which hosts temporary exhibitions. And because in the end you only know a city through its inhabitants, Simona Rossi is the right person to accompany you on your visits. She, who "has the city in her heart" as she likes to say with her lovely accent, will tell you all the stories and legends and take you back in time in the space of a few seconds.
In terms of taste, the family restaurant Borgo San Piero is our favourite of this stay. If you are looking for real, good, authentic Italian cuisine "della mamma", this is the place to go. For more sophisticated cuisine, L'Essenza Dario e Anna in Piazza Vasari is a must-do.
And Chianti? You may ask. How can you escape to Tuscany without tasting a delicious Chianti... A few minutes from Arezzo, in the middle of fir trees and vineyards, the Tenuta di San Fabiano belonging to the counts Borghini Baldovinetti of Bacci offers a visit of the cellars with a tasting - in moderation - of the wines accompanied by a few slices of local cheese and bread generously sprinkled with olive oil.
A magical, postcard-like place where you'll want to stop time.
- Where to stay?
In Pisa, Villa Tower Inn**** :
+39 050 991 3217
In Livorno, Grand Hôtel Palazzo***** : +39 0586 260836
In Arezzo, Bed & Breakfast La Corte del Re : +39 0575 401603
- Find golden guides
City Grand Tour
Chiara +39 349 4022819
Simona Rossi à Arezzo
+39 334 7205590