When most people think of Italy, the first things that spring to mind are usually food, art and architecture, and you’ll find all of these in abundance in Tuscany. By basing yourself in Pisa, you’ll be able to visit a number of stunningly authentic villages that embody everything that Italy stands for.
Tuscany is generally considered to be the epicentre of the Renaissance movement, with artists like Michelangelo and inventors like Galileo having lived in Florence. As such, it is the perfect place to come if you want to discover the finer points of Italian culture. What’s particularly great about the region is that it is dotted with stunning villages that appear to have changed little since medieval times, when Italy was at the forefront of Europe’s rapidly developing artistic and intellectual scene.
Taking a road trip around Tuscany is a wonderful way to get to grips with the real Italy, and will also enable you to experience the stunning rolling hills for which the area is famous. Hiring a car at Pisa airport is the best option if you want to see all that Tuscany has to offer, and you’ll find more information about doing so by clicking here.
Now let’s take a look at some of the authentically Italian villages that can be reached from Pisa.
Chianni can be reached in just under an hour from Pisa by taking the Superstrada Firenze-Pisa-Livorno heading east. Dating back to the 12th century, the town has retained much of its original charm and is still dominated by the Pieve di San Donato church, which sits in the Piazza della Chiesa. The tower can be seen from just about everywhere in Chianni, so walking around the narrow, winding streets is a great way to get a feel for what Italian life was like in centuries gone by.
Chianni is also perfectly placed to experience some of Italy’s most famous agricultural products – namely wine and olive oil. The town sits on the Strada del Vino Colline Pisane wine trail, which also includes places like Cappanoli, Peccioli and Crespina, so it’s a good base for anyone who wants to visit some of Tuscany’s beautiful vineyards. If you’re visiting during the final three months of the year then be sure to take a trip to one of the many oil mills located in the area, as this is when the olive oil harvest takes place.
Of all the towns and villages in Italy, there are few – if any – that have maintained their medieval charm quite as well as Lucca. This is largely down to the fact that the Renaissance era city walls that surround the town have been kept intact, and to this day still appear exactly the same as they did when they were built in medieval times.
It goes without saying that the walls are no longer used for military protection, which is why they have instead been converted into a recreational area, with a pedestrian promenade running along the tops of the walls and the space around them turned into a park.
Other centuries-old monuments worth exploring in Lucca include the Duomo di Lucca, which was originally built between the 12th and 14th centuries and is accompanied by a stunning bell tower.
Sitting at the other end of the Superstrada Firenze-Pisa-Livorno is Livorno itself, which is home to Quatiere La Venezia – or the Venice Neighbourhood. As the name suggests, this part of town bears a strong resemblance to the famous City of Bridges. Taking a boat down one of the many canals is a great way to experience the charm that many people associate with Venice itself, making Livorno one of Tuscany’s most charming locations.