Days Out

Beaches Beach Clubs:

We like going to a beach club called Bagno Dalia Dauro at the Marina di Pietrsanta. For a daily rate you can enjoy a day at the seaside with the convenience of sunbeds, shelter from the sun, showers, changing rooms and covered parking, plus a really good restaurant. There is also a pool, but you will have to pay extra for this.


A few doors up is the more glam Twiga .

Vongole & bottarga linguine

Beach & guard.

Bagno Dalia is run by a lovely lady, Tiziana Bigongiari, her son & daughter. They have showers, very nice changing rooms, pool and large covered parking and terraced bar. It is situated between Marina di Pietrasanta & Forti di Marmi. There is also a very good restaurant with al fresco dining alongside called Rosso Mare Ristorante tel: 0584 22121 (great seafood & seafood pastas). Gino the old waiter is a wonderful old character – Look for the sign as you drive between Marina di Pietrasanta & Forti di Marmi by.

During high season the weekends are busy so the best days for the beaches are Monday – Friday

The nearest beaches are 45 minutes drive over the hills or motorway to Viareggio, Lido di Pietrasanta, Forti di Marmi or the Cinque Terra

Viareggio with mountains behind

Sandy beaches

Autumn surfers at Viareggio

A really good family outing is a day trip to the beautiful Cinque Terra. Drive one hour north along the coast. Leave the car in the open-air car park just outside of Lericci and take the shuttle bus to the town. Book the boat for the Cinque Terra and have breakfast while waiting for the boat (aprrox every 30 mins). When on the boat you can stop at any of the ports to either swim, sun-bathe or have lunch and then return back to Lericci for supper or an ice cream before the journey home. The sea is crystal clear and the  boat trip is relaxing and enjoyable. Alternatively walk the Cinque Terra for a more energetic day-out! The boat will not operate in stormy weather.

You can also walk along the cliff tops or take the coastal train.

Lericci is a great seaside town to spend a day or to begin a boat trip along the Cinque Terra. The town has lots of wonderful cafes and restaurants. One hours drive (60-75 minutes) from A Corte.

If you want to hire your own boat with a captain please contact Rayo Verde Tour (boat rental – see nearest boat) +39 342 3940692 . You can book for  4hours or a full day. Dario is a very charming and obliging Italian, the type of person you are happy spending time with. (He also does shorter sunset trips). Wine & lunch is provided. You can snorkel and swim from the boat.

We met at Manarola harbour which is about 75-90mins drive from A Corte, has good car parking facility above the town and nice cafes to breakfast and lunch in.

View from the boat trip along the coast

Cinque Terra rocks and clear seas

Further a field is the wonderful clear water at Monte Argentario – see review

The beautiful Garfagnana mountains is a great area walking or cycling.

Beech trees on the Garfagnana

Lovely mountain village of San Pellegrino – during the Spring the meadows are full of wonderful wild flowers.

Cararra is the home of the white flecked marble famous in bathrooms throughout the world. It is a very interesting trip, 45 mins from Casa a Corte (few miles north of Viareggio), seeing how the marble is extracted deep within the mountains, followed by lunch or supper at Colonnata, which is famous for the Lardo di Colonnata

Pizzo d’Ucello mountain

A very popular two-hour max return walk (loved by our children) is at the at the Orrido del Botri, which is approx an hour’s beautiful drive from the house. Note it may be closed after a heavy thunderstorm due to strong torrents. It is a lovely cooling experience on a hot Summer’s day.

There is a good simple restaurant by the car park – take fly spray as there are annoying tiny flies near the restaurant because of the dried reeds. I would also take spare shorts & socks as they will be wet.

The walk takes you along a rocky river bed through a cutting in the rock. Ropes are attached on some rock faces to allow access over large boulders & through crystal clear mountain spring water. If you enjoy outdoor activities, then you may also like to go to Grotta del Vento, which is nearby (possibly not if you’re claustrophobic). You will require walking boots or good trainers – don’t attempt in flip-flops! Very popular with our children.

Orrido di Botri.

The Orrido di Botri is located in the Garfagnana area, in the municipality of Bagni di Lucca. It’s the biggest and deepest canyon in Tuscany, a harsh and impressive limestone gorge that has been carved over time by the cold, clear waters of the Mariana and Ribellino torrents, which merge in Rio Pelago. At certain points, the steep walls climb up to 650 feet high.

To protect this uniquely beautiful place, a state nature reserve was founded in 1971, managed by the State Forestry Department, which covers a surface area of 286 hectares.
From 1993 onwards, the area has been situated in the middle of an oasis protecting the fauna covering approximately 2,000 hectares, set up by the Lucca provincial government, where hunting is strictly forbidden.

The vegetation is rich and luxuriant, with rare varieties. In shaded and wet areas, moss, Hepaticae and various kinds of fern prevail low down and close to water. Butterwort, a carnivorous plant, is also found here.In rocky and sunny areas, higher up than the plants, grassy varieties are found such as the rare Aquilegia, Silene and the beautiful Primula auricola. In terms of trees, you’ll find oak, black hornbeam, ash (also known as Manna Ash), maple, willow, wild linden, laburnum and oak in some sunny places, as well as the rare yew tree. It is fairly wild with wolves deep in the forest.

You can visit Orrido di Botri from June to September, setting off from Ponte Gaio, the only access point to the gorge, where you’ll find the hospitality centre of the State Forestry Department and the ticket office. It’s not an easy walk; the ground is slippery, so you need to be properly kitted out. Wearing a helmet is a must, which can be hired at the centre.

The route follows the river bed and takes about four hours there and back, starting from Ponte Gaio and arriving at the so-called “Piscina” (pool).The final stretch is the most difficult. Don’t try to do it alone, especially if you’re inexperienced. It’s a great day out in touch with nature. We never use the tour guide.

Sunset on the Alpi Apuane

Castiglione di Garfagnana

MARKETS: On Tuesday morning Ponte a Moriano has a lovely food market with lots of wonderful fruit & vegetables; cheeses and honey from the Garfagnana mountains and fresh fish (great for BBQ’s).

Lucca holds an antique market (within the walls) on the weekend of the 3rd Sunday of every month. It is definitely worth a visit. There are lots of jewellery stalls, furniture, art, kitchen equipment and general bric a brac
During April there is the Lucca flower market held in the amphi-theatre & it is a wonderful spring occaision. During July musicians play in one of the other amphi-theatres

OPERA: music lovers may wish to listen to the Puccini Opera at Torre dell Lago and during the Summer months there are wonderful concerts in churches in Lucca

SHOPPING: Lucca has many fascinating delicatessens and there are shops catering for all fashion lovers. Florence has all the designer stores and designer outlets can be located south of Florence.

CYCLING: Lots of families ask us about cycling. Our hills are wonderful for cycling and available on racing bikes or chunkier models suitable for woods and rougher tracks. As these bikes (Pinarello & Canyon) are expensive I would use their insurance to cover any damage as they are very fussy how they are returned. There are two very good bike suppliers in Lucca that can deliver to the house or collect from Lucca. The owners are charming and speak very good English.

Sophie returning to our house

Hazel on the e-bike with A Corte in the valley below

Our neighbour Paul Smith is a very keen cyclist out for a spin along the river.

Alternatively, take it gently and hire a bike from within the walls of Lucca for about €3/ hour and cycle around the wonderful ancient Venetian walls. They are the lungs of Lucca – you can walk it in about 20 mins, cycle, jog and even use it as part of your Park Run on Saturday morning.


FLORENCE is just over an hour on the train from the Lucca & definitely worth a visit (make sure you scan your ticket before traveling on the train to avoid a fine). It is a fabulous city full of art, history, wonderful architecture and full of Italian

charm. Most galleries can be booked on-line to avoid long queues.

Millie shopping in one of Florence’s beautiful shops

Millie enjoying a view of Florence

PIETRASANTA: Travel inland from the beach at Lido di Pietrasanta and visit this charming town full of colourful cafes, restaurants, art galleries and beautiful people. A must visit for art-lovers.

Sculptures exhibitions in the main Church in Pietrsanta

Statues outside exhibition

Cool Mediterranean life-style!

La Cantina dell Enoteca Marcucci -one of Paul Smith’s favourite restaurants in the world. The waiters all dressed in black Armani!

PIETRASANTA: Is a cool Mediterranean town, popular with the Milanese and Formula One drivers. It claims to have more working sculptors than anywhere in the world. The streets are wide so marble could be transported from the quarries nearby at Carrera, and was the birthplace of  Michaelangelo’s David.

MODENA: The home of Pavarotti and Balsamic Vinegar. The Ferrari HQ is based nearby in Maranello. Car enthusiasts may wish to visit the , bookings can be made online. You can view cars, helmets and old Ferrari memorabilia.

PISA: This is a wonderful city full of wonderful historical buildings and of course the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and Duomo. We always recommend an early start to avoid queues and crowds.

BOLOGNA: If you enjoy food then a trip to the markets, delis and restaurants in Bologna is a must. The home of infamous ragu (Bolognese) and many wonderful foods. It is a very interesting picturesque historical town with the oldest University in the world and full of wonderful architecture.

Near to Bologna is Imola, home of the Italian F1 Grand Prix. There is a memorial at the circuit  to Ayrton Senna, one of 2 drivers killed while leading the San Marino GP (Independent Province) in 1994. His death resulted in new safety laws being implemented.