Tuscany is stunning. There’s no two ways about it. The weather, the history, the scenery, the people and the food are gorgeous and unforgettable.
You’ll already know of Florence, the leaning tower of Pisa and the landscapes peppered with red terracotta clay farmhouses, but maybe what isn’t so well known is how suitable Tuscany is for a family holiday.
A couple of years ago, we rented a villa just outside a village called Chianni, which was a southern province of Pisa. The drive to the villa was breathtaking mix of horizon-stretching fields of sunflowers, sun-baked valleys and those distinctive, tall cypress trees.
We arrived to find ourselves transported to heaven. A renovated 18th century farmhouse greeted us with stunning (there’s that word again) views over the olive trees towards the Chianti hills and the old walled town of Volterra.
We had an expansive garden, swimming pool, tennis courts and dining area to enjoy, and that was all before we’d even set foot inside the house. The kids couldn’t believe how beautiful it was, and how much there was to do.
Relaxing in the Tuscan hills is a unique experience. The light, the sunshine, the smell of the rosemary bushes in the garden, the peace – it’s all sublime. You are so far from the business of everyday life that the noisiest thing (that you didn’t bring with you) are the crickets in the neighbouring grounds.
One of the fondest memories of the villa was the first floor balcony area. At night, we’d all gather around a large table to drink local wine and beer under the stars. The sky was so clear that you could see satellites going overhead every ten minutes or so. I’ll never forget that.
And so once we settled into the villa, we took the opportunity to discover the local area. The aforementioned historic town of Volterra was close enough to have a quick drive to, while the big trips to Pisa and Florence were full day excursions.
While the countryside looks rustic and untouched, the infrastructure around Tuscany is actually excellent. The roads are easily navigable, from the perfect beaches of Livorno to the historic wonder of Florence. If, like us, you prefer to take a train to Florence, it’s a quick and inexpensive way of getting around. You can easily access the medieval city of Siena and the relaxing, cultured Lucca with it’s old churches and tree-lined avenues, or travel out to Chianti to sample the world famous wines.
We drove to Pisa, and found a parking space with ease. As a tourist, everything you’d need for a day trip with the family is pretty close together. Certainly all in walking distance for a family with young kids. The famous leaning tower is the centre-piece but the surrounding architecture is equally beautiful.
And the food! Every morning, we had plates piled high with fresh fruit and local breads. We had authentic pizza coming out of our ears, and the most inspired pasta dishes from the home of ragu! The locals know how to cater for kids as well, which gave us peace of mind when entering restaurants. Oh, the ice creams too! We celebrated our niece’s birthday at a gelateria in Pisa with the friendliest staff imagineable. Great memories!
Writing this has made me want to plan a return trip! It’s something we’d definitely like to do again.