Valdicastello Carducci lies beneath the Apuan Alps and is ideally placed for those who want beach time, those wishing to hike in the hills, or for those who wish to explore the towns and villages of northern Tuscany.
There are a number of walking trails immediately behind Lemons, one of which leads to Sant’Anna di Stazzema which is sadly best known for the massacre that took place towards the end of the Second World War.
We can recommend different walks, but if cycling is your preferred way to sightsee, you can easily reach Pietrasanta, Camaiore and the beach on two wheels.
Within 30 minutes you can reach many local places including the beaches and towns of Versilia, Pisa and Lucca, whilst in just over an hour you can find yourself in Florence or the stunning Ligurian collection of villages known as Cinque Terre.
Versilia is the collective name for the four towns (Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, Lido di Camaiore and Viareggio) that stretch along the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west coast north of Pisa. The lungomare (seafront) stretches for 20 kilometres and is lined with stabilimenti balneari, each with a restaurant and rows of impeccably laid out umbrellas and deckchairs. There are also a number of free beaches. The beaches themselves tend to be exceptionally clean, the water is warm and make for safe swimming, and you can enjoy that rare experience of emerging from the sea and seeing stunning mountains ahead of you.
Lemons is just 5 minutes away from Pietrasanta, a small and picturesque town which is famed for being an artists’ centre, with many sculptors from around the world learning their trade there, drawn by the opportunity to work with the renowned Carrara marble from the nearby quarries. It boasts a stunning cathedral which sits in a beautiful central piazza where you can easily pass hours drinking coffee, enjoying an aperitivo and people watching.
Lucca, 30 minutes by both car and train, is a charming and elegant walled town surrounded by hills and which many consider rivals Florence and Siena for beauty. Having not yet been hit by mass tourism it retains its character and is the perfect place to spend a half-day strolling the narrow streets which can suddenly broaden out into spectacular sun-drenched piazzas, browsing the excellent local shops and savouring the unhurried pace of life. Lucca is also known as La Citta’ delle 100 Chiese (the Town of 100 Churches), is the birthplace of Puccini and has a great antique street market the third Saturday and Sunday of every month.
The Garfagnana is an undiscovered area of Tuscany to the north of Lucca composed of a string of small and authentic Tuscan towns. Surrounded by mountains, with many of the villages themselves situated on the slopes, the area is characterised by rich thick woods which offer wonderful hiking opportunities and beautiful unspoilt countryside. Here you will discover a less developed but nevertheless charming Tuscany as you explore its numerous characteristic villages, with the most known being mediaeval Barga, Castiglione and Castelnuovo.
Pisa, 30 minutes away, is of course, most famously known for its tower, which is certainly a must-see. No matter how many photos of it you may have seen, it really does still make you stop in your tracks when you see the real thing. The phrase “it really does lean” reverberates continuously in a host of different languages and accents around the Piazza dei Miracoli where it is to be found. The piazza is also known as the Piazza del Duomo, as it also plays host to the Duomo, the beautiful white cathedral and its immense domed Baptistery, the largest in Italy.
Besides the tower, however, there are some wonderful hidden gems and the team at Lemons will be happy to give you tips on these often missed treasures, such as the tiny Church of Santa Maria della Spina, the Sinopie museum and Museum of San Matteo, housed in the ancient convent of San Matteo.
For something completely different, there are also the marble quarries of Carrara. The famed white marble is excavated in the rugged mountains behind Massa Carrara, 40 minutes north of Pisa. It’s an awe-inspiring sight from the coast, looking eastwards and seeing the huge gouges cut out of the mountain, giving the impression of snow covered slopes. It’s possible to look down into a quarry and see at first hand the magnitude of the work involved in extracting the immense marble blocks. Whilst there, you can also visit the tiny village of Colonnata which for over a hundred years has served as the home of the quarry workers. It’s not what you would call your typical picturesque Tuscan village, but it’s a chance to see an authentic workers’ town and sample its speciality – lardo. Essentially, it’s the fat off the back of a pig which is then cured in a marble (what else?) vat with garlic, salt and herbs where it remains for a period of months before being ready to eat either on its own or in a sandwich. A lardo sandwich served to get the quarrymen through a rigorous day in the caves, but the flavour is actually surprisingly delicate and far more appetising than one might think!
Florence surely needs no introduction so we shall merely say that the home of the famed Medici family and of Italy’s arguably foremost poet Dante Alighieri is justly deserving of its reputation as a city dripping with stunning historic buildings and incredible art. And, if you visit by car, make sure to leave time for a stop at the small hilltop town of Vinci, birthplace of one of Italy’s most famous sons.
Bolgheri is a tiny picturesque town around 50 minutes by car from Lemons which is reached by the spectacular Viale dei Cipressi, a seemingly never ending avenue lined with cypresses. Once parked outside the walls, you enter the town through its main arch and feel as though you have been transported onto a film set, so perfectly redolent of an Italian village it seems. It is very difficult to leave Bolgheri without having succumbed to purchasing some edible reminder of your visit, be that locally made olive oil, cheeses, salami or one of its famous wines. If you are a wine lover, Bolgheri is a must-visit because this is the home of the so-called Super Tuscan Wines such as the famed Sassicaia and Ornellaia.
The five villages that make up the Cinque Terre (which literally means Five Lands) each possess their own distinct charm and personality but together create a stunning day trip, easily accessible by train. You can choose to visit each town by train, boat or, for truly spectacular scenery combined with great exercise, foot. It is possible to walk the entire trail in a day if you are fit and determined, and you will certainly be rewarded by breathtaking scenery if you do so.