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Tuscany - Coast & Countryside

By The Kirker Team, 31 July 2018

Florence has always been a classic destination for discerning travellers but a recent trip to Tuscany reminded me how much more the region has to offer outside of the city, and how varied the natural and cultural landscape is.

We started by flying in to Pisa, before collecting a hire car and driving on to the stunning walled town of Lucca. It is a rare gem; almost untouched by modern construction within the walls, which remain intact all the way around the city. Today the walls draw visitors and residents alike as they form one long pedestrianised boulevard – a tree-lined park which completely encircles the town. We stayed at the No. 15 Santori luxury home, which gives you a real sense of immersion in life as a local, and the charming owner – who we have known for many years – is always willing to recommend her favourite restaurant.

From Lucca we took a trip by train to the beach at Viareggio. This is a remarkably scenic journey, as you watch the ground crumble into jagged peaks (not the stereotypically gentle Tuscan panorama) before suddenly subsiding into pancake-flat plains towards the coast. Viareggio itself is a busy resort town, ideal for those looking for a sunbed for a week, but within 20 minutes’ drive of the Migliarino San Rossore national park for those looking for a slightly wilder bit of coastline.

Further down the coast our next overnight stop was at the hotel Baglioni Cala Del Porto in Punta Ala; a sophisticated little port town with only a handful of restaurants (each serving the freshest of fish) and a couple of cafés. The hotel is immaculate, and run by the effervescent Nicola and his fantastic team – no request is too much trouble. A private club on a large sandy beach in a sweeping, shallow bay presents the perfect conditions to enjoy a swim - there the sea was warm even in early May, and only the smell coming from the barbeque restaurant on the beachside could temp me back out of the water.

Moving down the coast we stopped in at the beautiful fortified fishing village of Castiglione della Pescaia, before moving inland to stay at the hotel L’Andana for a night. The landscape here is more what I expected to see when I came to Tuscany; a long drive flanked by the iconic slender silhouettes of Cypress trees, and a farmhouse-style hotel surrounded by vine-covered slopes. It is a great option for families too, with complimentary bicycles and a Kids’ Club during the summer.

On our way further inland, we took a detour to partake in that most Tuscan of activities; wine tasting. We visited the Renzo Piano-designed Rocca di Frassinello winery; a striking building nestled deep amongst the hills. It is one of numerous options at your fingertips for tasting – speak to the Kirker Concierge to book one close to your chosen hotel.

Our final visit on the way back to the airport was to Siena. A masterpiece of medieval architecture, it is a real pleasure to get lost in its tangled alleyways and passages which carry you past little galleries, cafés and pretty squares. A private guide is absolutely essential in order to peel away the layers of symbolism which surround you all over the city – but which could go unnoticed so very easily. Siena is of course also home to one of the world’s longest running sporting traditions in the Palio horseraces, but there is much more to this historic city than that.

To make an enquiry please speak to one of our experts on 020 7593 1899, or enquire online

Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.