Close By

Where shall we go today? Further Afield? Well, it would be a shame not to see the sights. Imagine: Florence, Pisa, Siena ….. all of them within 70 minutes drive. Plus other jewels such as San Gimignano (including “the world’s best ice-cream shop” – we beg to differ because we think there’s a better one in Volterra!), Andrea Bocelli’s hugely atmospheric ‘Teatro del Silenzio’ auditorium in his home town of Laiatico and the Mediterranean coast. In fact, you’re surrounded by wonderful countryside, history and the whole Italian experience wherever you choose to go.


Who needs an introduction? There’s just so much to see. Il Ponte Vecchio reaching across the Arno river, Michaelangelo’s David (get there early to avoid the queues), the Uffizi gallery, Il Duomo (the cathedral), Bobboli Gardens… You’re walking through history wherever you go. We recommend driving to Pontedera and getting one of the frequent, cheap trains from there.


Siena’s Campo is the setting for the world-famous palio horse race. It’s an awe-inspiring piazza where it’s good to sit in one of the bars round its edge and watch the world go by. Some very up-market shopping can be done here.


Volterra’s main claim to fame is as the alabaster capital of Italy. Not only can you buy all kinds of alabaster products, you can also wander into the workshops and watch the artisans at work.
Volterra is a beautiful ancient township, dating back to Etruscan times.  Wandering round, you can see evidence of its history throughout the ages (the prison - still in use - was built by the Medici).  Volterra is unlike other Tuscan towns.  It is known as ‘the city of magic and mystery’.
More recently, Volterra has been the setting for parts of Stephanie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ saga. It is the home of the Volturi, “the royal family of vampires”. Rumour has it that the legend of vampire’s dislike of garlic originated in Volterra. 


Our favourite. A small walled town west of Siena. Next to nothing there apart from a few craft shops and restaurants. But a wonderful away-from-it-all feel. For a small fee you can walk the full circuit along the top of the walls.


There’s more to Pisa than its “Torre Pendente”. The tower is the bell-tower for the cathedral, which most visitors totally ignore.The Baptistery to the cathedral is well worth a look. Pisa has a unique architectural style, and it’s interesting just to wander and explore. Good, cheap eating in the university quarter.

San Gimignano

A town with unique atmosphere. Narrow streets and the remains of 2 dozen towers which make it look like an ancient Manhattan – in mediaeval times, the taller your house, the higher your status.Superb views of typical Tuscan countryside. Lots of shops and eateries. Tip: go late afternoon when the tourist buses have shipped the crowds out.

Tel: 0044 7947 360 516