Italy with its great architecture, friendly people, great food, and fantastic wines has been a favorite of vacationers for centuries. Everyone has seen pictures of Venice, Rome, and Florence. Tuscany. Just saying the word evokes a sense of warmth and history and spectacular architecture like no other word does. The Tuscan region of Italy is one of the most visited lands in the world and it has inspired thousands of artists.


Florence, Pisa, and Chianti are the most famous names in Tuscany; the Serchio Valley is less well known. It is one of the most beautiful places in Tuscany.  We lived in Colorado for several years and Rusty says that it reminds him of the Rocky Mountains. It’s in northern Tuscany, nestled between the Apuan Alps and the Apennines. Rusty said that driving from Lucca up the Serchio Valley was breathtaking.  Sasi, an Italian friend from his days as a student in Florence, was with him that day. She said she couldn’t believe how beautiful it was and that our guests will surely love it – agreement from two opposite ends of the globe.


As I research the points of interests in northern Tuscany, I have been fantastically surprised.  I have always thought of myself as an intuitive person.  I can see photos and listen to details and build a mental picture.  Having not ever seen the location, I have had to rely on Rusty’s photographs from his visit and his descriptions of the area and the architecture.  He did such a great job at conveying the beauty of the area. As I see other images of the surrounding countryside, the mountains, and the towns in the Serchio Valley, it seems like I have already been there. I have seen the stone buildings, felt the Tuscan sun on my skin, and smelled the towering chestnuts. I have found some marvelous facts about our soon-to-be hometown. A great adventure awaits us; we will discover the history, people, and landscape of this wonderful Tuscan valley.


All through the Serchio Valley are spectacular snow-capped mountains, castle-topped hill towns, and gentle rivers.  It is a very forested area of Tuscany. Wonderful sky-high chestnut trees dominate the landscape. Almost anywhere in this area you get wonderful vistas of the Alps.  The Serchio River flows past gorgeous medieval towns.  Among the most exciting are Bagni di Lucca, Barga, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, and Borgo a Mozzano.  (Map)  Each town has its own distinctive flavor with different history, food, and people. I am convinced that this fairytale land is where Cinderella and Snow White go for inspiration.


The closest major city is Lucca. It’s a spectacular walled city with many restaurants, theatres, and shops. When I first visited Lucca, I was mesmerized by it; the churches and the piazzas were breathtaking.  I easily filled a memory card with photos. I was excited to discover that Lucca has one of the largest art festivals in the area. And there is a world-class music festival in the summer.


There is a train from our village to Lucca about eight times a day and it only takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Pisa is another 20 minutes beyond Lucca by train. Pisa has an international airport which is used by millions of people who come to see the leaning tower. You can also reach Florence via train; it’s about a 1-hour journey from our village.


With anxiety and anticipation, I look forward to discovering all about the Serchio Valley and northern Tuscany. Just writing this post makes me want to be there already. I guess I will have to wait.