Escape the heat of the city on your second day, sneaking over to catch some mountain breezes in the Pistoiese Mountains. Although this area is home to many postcard-perfect hamlets, we recommend concentrating your time in Cutigliano, about an hour’s drive from Pistoia, for a day trip. (Offiically it is known as Abetone Cutigliano for administrative purposes, but the two towns are separate areas). With a smattering of ski resorts, both are renowned wintertime meccas for well-to-do Tuscans, but in the summertime the tourist crowds diminish and there are still ample activities to choose from.
Equal parts green oasis and medieval culture center, Cutigliano is famous for one icon in particular: the Palazzo dei Capitani della Montagna, the facade of which overflows with high-powered family crests. (Note the Medici balls above the doorway: you’re never far from those particular nobles in Tuscany!)
Nature lovers or lovers of retro-style travel can take a cable car from Cutigliano to the Doganaccia, a ski resort and adventure park which has a well-padded summer program, too: think hiking, mountain biking, fishing and horseback riding. If you’re not the outdoor-adventure type but your fellow travelers are, skip out on the physically challenging activities and opt for a second ride with a view: from the Doganaccia, you can take another cable car up to the Croce Arcana, with an altitude of 1737 meters and gasp-inducing views of the land below.