Living like a local in Tuscany: a day trip to Garfagnana
If you want to live like a local in Tuscany, if you are tired of the tourist beaten path, then you should go to Garfagnana. Garfagnana is the mountainous area behind Lucca, the highlands between this city and Tuscany's border.
Saturday it was a beautiful sunny day so my family and I decided to bring our fat dog with us for a walk, or better, a day trip to Garfagnana. Our journey started from Pisa, where we live. We drove towards Lucca, then we proceeded towards Borgo a Mozzano, where you can find the Devil's Bridge, or "Ponte della Maddalena". Borgo a Mozzano, which is quite popular for the Azaleas' feast during spring, is also famous for this weird bridge that crosses the blue river Serchio. Read here about the legend linked with this bridge's building!
We drove until Fabbriche di Vallico, a small village close to a creek, where it's possible to chill out or picnic. My dog bathed in the fresh water, then we looked for a restaurant, and had a huge plate of tordelli. Tordelli were hand made, covered with ragù sauce, filled with meat and herbs: oh... they were so tasty... I couldn't stop eating them!
After lunch we moved towards San Cassiano in Controni (or Controne, you can find both the words googling), where my aunt&uncle have a small summer house. The village is surrounded by green hills and mountains, covered by chestnuts trees until my eyes could see. Garfagnana is actually one of Tuscany's most productive areas in terms of chestnuts, chestnut flour and other recipes chestnuts-based.
We walked with my uncle&aunt throughout the village and the surrounding paths. The old Pieve (church) is Romanesque and dates back to the 8th century aC: its facade's low-reliefs are simple, basic, they have something that reminds me of alien representations 8O they're soooo interesting, and it's weird (but normal for Tuscany ;) ) that such a distant village hides a precious treasure like that!
All around San Cassiano there are fields, vineyards, chestnut-trees woods: from October it will be possible to pick the chestunts, so I will probably repeat this relaxing trip and meet my relatives again for a family and/or chestnut harvest :D
It's not necessary to have relatives in Garfagnana to go for a trip! :P Rent a car and start wondering! Follow your heart, not just the map. If you want to try "tordelli" or spelt you can find these traditional delights throughout the all area's restaurants (here's the best places where to eat in Lucca and surroundings); if you like to gather chestnuts just look at the street's borders and stop when you find chestnut trees!
Barga is another cool place to visit (it's also Paolo Nutini's father birthplace and if you are lucky you can find him chilling out there!), as well as Castelnuovo Garfagnana and Castiglione Garfagnana, one of the best Italian "borghi" (= villages).
Are you ready to enjoy Tuscany like a local? :)
View Garfagnana Escape in a larger map