Try out the pizza oven
Guests always enjoy cooking their own pizzas in the pizza oven... It may take a little practice, but the authentic wood fired flavour is delicious and well worth learning the ropes!
The leaning tower and more
In Pisa, head to Campo dei Miracoli, where you will find the famous leaning tower. The astonishing angle of the tower is well known, but still has the power to amaze when you are standing in front of it! Few can resist taking a trick picture - but will you be pushing it over or holding it up?! If you want to climb up, you can book tickets in advance online at http://boxoffice.opapisa.it/Torre/index.jsp. Whilst the tower usually takes the limelight, don't miss the other incredible works of architecture on the 'Square of Miracles' - the magnificent Cathedral, the domed Baptistry and the beautiful walled Cemetery.
A little gem in Lucca
The Palazzo Pfanner is well worth a visit. For a few euros you can visit the house and/or the beautiful peaceful garden with its fountain, statues of gods and goddesses, colourful flowerbeds and terracotta pots containing lemon trees.
Walk or cycle along the walls
Lucca's impressive 16th century walls are beautifully preserved, and the 2.4 mile walkway along the top makes for a wonderful stroll. Join the Lucchesi families as they promenade on a Sunday afternoon admiring the town from above. Or hire a bicycle or a rickshaw and pedal along the walls or through the beautiful old town.
Explore the Serchio valley north of Lucca,
which takes you on towards the Apuan Alps, and the Garfagnana National Park. Ideal countryside for walking and enjoying the flora and fauna, or simply for a scenic drive. On your way up the valley, look out for the Ponte della Maddalena (otherwise known as Devil's Bridge) - this distinctive medieval bridge crosses the Serchio river near Borgo a Mozzano.
Mini tour of the magnificent Lucchesi villas
Several magnificent manor houses in the countryside around Lucca are open to the public, and boast splendid formal gardens and gorgeous interiors with many a treasure to behold. Head for Villa Torrigiani in Camigliano, Villa Reale in Marlia and Villa Mansi.
Drive to Carrara
...to view the marble quarries and marvel at the way it is mined. Return via Pietrasanta and visit the stonemasons' yards and watch them at work transforming marble into yet another copy of the statue of David in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence (which is itself a copy!)
Spend a day at the beach
The nearest beaches are at Viareggio or Lido di Camaiore, long stretches of sand dotted with regimented lines of parasols, and backed by tree-lined promenades. The Italian way of doing things is to hire a sun lounger and parasol and stake your claim on a patch of sand. Cool off with a dip in the Ligurian Sea and a delicious gelato!
Experience the 'passeggiata'
In any town or large village, especially on a weekend or holiday, the inhabitants will congregate in the main square in the early evening, to promenade around, talk to their friends, have an aperitif or ice cream, before dispersing for dinner. It is the perfect time to get a real sense of Italian life and to people watch, especially somewhere like Lucca.
Children in the party will enjoy
spending an afternoon at the Pinocchio Park in Collodi, towards Florence. The author of 'The Adventures of Pinocchio' took the name of the town (his mother's home town) as his pseudonym. The park celebrates the author and the stories about the wooden puppet who wanted to be a real boy. Combine with a visit to the hanging gardens of Garzoni and the Butterfly House, also in Collodi, which will enchant young and old alike.
Spend a day in Bagni di Lucca
This lovely old spa town is delightful to wander round, with shops, cafés and a small children's play park, as well as the spa itself where you can indulge in beauty treatments or a relaxing massage.
Shop at the market
for some fresh salad, cheeses and meats, and enjoy a barbecue or a simple al fresco lunch back at Casale Elisa under the lovely covered dining pergola.
at either the Vicopelago or the Maglificio Romana golf courses, both near Lucca.
Tennis and horse riding
Both activities can be be practised nearby... don't forget to pack your racquets if you fancy a game of tennis during your holiday.
The ‘Selva del Buffardello’ Park makes for a fun day out with a treetop adventure course involving rope bridges, swings and zip wires through the trees. There are 6 levels of difficulty to choose from. Access to the park itself is free, so those who don't fancy the rope swings can relax in the sun, or at the bar! There is also a play area, and space for picnicking or barbecueing.
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