Sit on the terrace with a glass of Chianti
and enjoy the view across the valley and the mountains on the other side.
The little town of Barga is only about 20km away,
with lovely walks and great views over the surrounding hills. Be sure to round off the tour with an ice cream from La Gelateria - guests at Ai Castagni rate it the best in Italy!
Go hill walking along the many trails through the hills
to the high peaks and visit the many hillside villages along the way. In fact, you can walk from Ai Castagni into the woods behind and follow the 'Sentiero del Fungo'. It takes about an hour to reach the village of Roggio - stop for lunch or a coffee at La Guardia and be sure to admire the views from the church at the top of the village.
The small town of Camporgiano is close by
and can supply all essential shopping. Locals and previous visitors to Ai Castagni recommend the fruit and vegetable stall which sets up on Mondays, near the church.
Pack a picnic
and go up to the hills where you can enjoy some marvellous panoramic views - Lake Gramolazzo, Campocatino and the Parco del Orecchiella are all recommended.
Visit the underground caverns of the Grotto del Vento
with its fabulous curtain stalactites, and 1, 2 or 3 hour explorations of the caves with an English speaking guide.
If you feel like an adventure, follow some of the tiny country roads
that take you up and over the Alpi Apuane and down towards the coast. Pick a clear day and you will have beautiful views of the countryside.
Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi, Lido di Camaiore are the coastal resorts
with sandy beaches, long promenades, and lots of hustle and bustle. During the summer, the places are filled with Italians enjoying the sun and sea.
For a romantic day out, go to Torre del Lago,
on Lago di Massaciuccoli, where you can visit the house of the famous composer, Giacomo Puccini. Breathe in the atmosphere of this place where Puccini composed lots of his symphonies. The lakeside also has some great restaurants and what a beautiful setting!
Castelnuovo Garfagnana is a lively little mountain town
and known for its local produce - typical mountain food such as chestnut flour, spelt (called the mountain grain), and local cheeses and hams. Don’t forget to visit the big market, which takes place in the old town centre every Thursday morning.
If you love the mountains with their meadows, the space, the flora and fauna, you should definitely visit the Parco dell’Orecchiella (1200m above sea level). Children will love the animal museum; they can fish for trout and see the eagles, whilst adults will be able to buy many local products. Whilst in the area, visit Castiglione, an old village with fortified walls and the most fantastic view of the Alpi Apuane.
Enjoy a day out in Lucca -
either drive or catch the train from Camporgiano. We are sure you will fall in love with this beautiful walled city. Take a stroll along the tops of the tree- lined walls, sip a cappuccino in one of the many cafes or visit the stylish boutiques that line the cobbled streets. Piazza del Anfiteatro is the best spot for people-watching. Previous guests have recommended Restaurant Leo - buzzing and not too touristy.
Florence is the flower of Italy.
Its artwork and the museums (in particular the Uffizi) are known all over the world. Wander its streets and you will see the cathedral, the Piazza della Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio with its jewellery shops. Walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo from where you will have the most splendid view over Florence. You can reach Florence by car and by train - Castelnuovo - Lucca - Florence.
Visit the marble quarries of Carrara,
where Michelangelo himself got the marble for his creations. From there you can visit the villages of Fabbiano and Azzano where you can see many sculptors. Carry on slightly further and you find the quarries of Monte Altissimo.
Make sure you visit Pisa for the day.
Its numerous piazzas and narrow streets, lined with lovely buildings, are sometimes ignored as people flock to see the Tower, but it is worth making time to have a wander.
Sit in the garden or on the terrace
watching the mists clear on a sunny morning or lie on the sun warmed patios and count the stars in the deep blue velvet night sky.
Visit La Spezia and Lerici.
Go north along the valley to Aulla and then down to La Spezia. The jewel to be visited near to La Spezia is Lerici, a fascinating little fishing village at the foot of a cliff (there is a road down, but parking in the village is severely restricted).
take the boat to Portovenere across the bay - this is a charming little village with narrow streets to wander through and plenty of interesting shops.
Continue from Portovenere by boat to visit the Cinque Terre.
These are five villages at the foot of cliffs which have made them mostly inaccessible by road, but you can go by train. Once again, there is much to enjoy and excellent places to eat good seafood. It is perfectly possible to do all this in a day trip from the house if you leave reasonably early.
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