Since Renaissance times, some of the most noteworthy villas of Lucca and its surrounding area have been built on the slopes of the Pizzorne hills, whose position was particularly favorable for a variety of factors. Both the nature of the land and its mid-day exposure create the ideal conditions for agricultural cultivation, a splendid panorama and a pleasant climate. Many of these luxurious residences have been built in the area that Sanminiati, author of a treatise on villas at the end of the 17th century, considered as ideal: along the boundary between plains and mountains. This guaranteed the presence of agricultural zones that were suitable for various cultivations (like grain, grapevines, olives) and woodland for hunting in the grounds of the villa. Such a location also offered steep-sloping flows of water. These water currents were useful for both field irrigation as well as for the waterworks of the fountains.
How to get there by car: from Lucca, take the Pesciatina road that goes towards Pescia until you reach Collodi.
Duration of the itinerary: a day (but in a bit of rush); two days are better
When to go:
In spring, you can enjoy the blooming of the gardens. A possible itinerary for the villas of the Pizzorne could start with a visit to the park surrounding Villa Garzoni in Collodi. From here, take the small but scenic road that leads to San Gennaro. From San Gennaro,continue toward Petrognano and, passing through Tofori, you will reach Camigliano, where you can visit Villa Torrigiani, which is today called Colonna. It is one of the most majestic villas in Lucca and its surrounding areas. From Camigliano, continue for Segromigno in Monte and visit another great example of 17th-century architecture: Villa Mansi.
From Segromigno, pass through San Colombano until you reach Villa Reale in Marlia, the 1800s residence of Princess Elisa Baciocchi. From here, continue toward the great villas in San Pancrazio: Villa Grabau, with its very interesting garden, and Villa Oliva, which was the celebrated residence of the Buonvisi family. Between Villa Reale in Marlia and Villa Grabau, from the road you will see Villa Diodati, a precious example of late-Renaissance architecture, which uses ashlar as a decorative element on the façade.
Source: Provincia di Lucca