All around our property there are villages with restaurants and cafes that are worth going – and going back. Life in the village is something to see and be experienced: us tuscans spend a quantity of time with a book, or a newspaper, and a nice glass of wine on a sunday afternoon in the square. Amongst many beautiful aspects of visiting a medieval village, its square, its rock – if not ruined or bombed – there is the fact that no cars are allowed: kids can run free and parents can guard them effortlessly.
The square is where people gather, watch other people walk by, stay in the sun and collect energies for the following week. At four o’clock in the afternoon a bruschetta will be served: someone likes it with just oil and garlic, some other like with slices of fresh tomato and prosciutto crudo. Kids will order ice cream – in posh bars not by the cone, only by the “coppetta”, a nice glass with decorations.
Here’s our favourite ones.
Monsummano 5 minutes away – Town – Every monday morning and every wednesday morning Monsummano Terme features a rional market. The first one is a 190 stands one, with clothing, food, jewelry, leather et al. The second one, wednesday, is instead focused on vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, cheese and organic products from the local farms all around. We highly recommend you to come over and buy fruit and vegetables in here, rather than in the supermarket, because there’s no comparison. If you instead hire a chef of ours, you will notice they rarely come back to you with a bill (scontrino) from the supermarket: they will shop here. The center of town is particularly happy on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon around 6pm, during the “aperitivo” time: in each nice bar – many – you will be able to pay for a drink, soft or alcoholic, and access a full buffet of finger food, pizzas, nuts and little things we generally use as if it was dinner. Stop at Grotta Giusti for an amazing wellness experience – named as one of the best private SPAs in Europe.
Montecatini Terme 10 minutes away A town for shopping and elegance. It is buzzy everyday apart from monday, and it offers a wide range of restaurants, wineries, oyster bars, pizza places, clothing shops of the highest brands with a famous outlet, called Bonvicini, famous worldwide.
In Vinci, everything is about Leonardo: the native house, the church where he was baptised, the museum and the library dedicated to him, even the landscape, still intact, which Leonardo himself had contemplated daily. Vinci has its centre in the castle. Called the “castle of the ship” for the extended form of the small town, which recalls the shape of a boat, today, the castle of the Guidi Counts houses the Leonardo da Vinci Museum. It is one the larger and more ingenious collections of machines and models created by Leonardo as technologist and engineer. The center of town is very pretty, with many restaurants, cafes, shops and wine bars. Close to Vinci there are awarded Leonardo Da Vinci’s wineries, not to be missed http://www.cantineleonardo.it/en/
Montecatini Alto 25 minutes away – Medieval Village With four restaurants, one enoteca (wine bar), two ice cream shops, a breadshop with hand made clothes and a leather shop, this is the leading village. Our favourite restaurant is La Torre (for Tuscan food) and, if you want to taste the most amazing ‘focaccia’ and pizza, please stop at Le Maschere. A funicular service is active – kids *love* it: one can park the car in Montecatini Terme and take the funicular up to the center of the village. The ride lasts 10 minutes and it is just great.
Pistoia 30 minutes away – Medieval Town We are in love with Pistoia. It’s a pedestrian island with markets and what is today called the “Movida Pistoiese”, a term to define the fact that in the center of town, where cars are not allowed and all buildings are in style, there’s a blossiming of bars, wine bars, locande, trattorie and restaurants with a very authentic offer. We have a full list of places we adore – and that are absolutely kids friendly – but we leave the discovery to you. Please do not miss: La Botte Gaia if you are a foodie with relatively expensive taste and you find pleasure in a great wine list. If you like something more informal, still delicious, head over the Taverna Gargantuà (especially if you have teen agers in the group). One other place we adore, it is called Paolino Pane e Vino. Like the most tuscan of places, it doesn’t come with a website: you will have to get to the main square, called Piazza della Sala, and ask for “Paolino”. They will tell you – it is right there in via del Lastrone. Get there and order a “panino”, a sandwich, and let the host choose the wine for you.