THE ERA VALLEY AND ITS VILLAGES
- We leave the motorway between Florence and Pisa at Pontedera, an industrial town with the Piaggio factory and the Vespa Museum, entirely free and interesting for nostalgic people.
- We arrive in Lari, a village known for its sherry, pasta factory, artisan products and its castle defended by strong buttresses. The terrace on the castle shows us why a fortified castle was built precisely here: the panoramic view from it is incredible, towards Pontedera and beyond to Pisa and Volterra. It was an excellent natural strategic point in a Tuscany torn by civil wars. We’ll visit the interior of the castle and its prison and then we’ll watch people making fresh pasta.
- Next we’ll go to Peccioli, a charming village which has entirely preserved its medieval architecture. I’ll tell you a recent surprising story about Peccioli and, after a stroll in the medieval streets with their towers, houses and palazzos, from which you can take wonderful pictures of the countryside all around, we’ll visit the archaeological museum which principally houses the remains of an Etruscan sanctuary. After that, I’ll take you to the Russian Icons Museum, a rarity in Italy.
- We’ll then go towards Volterra, but first we’ll stop in Orciatico, a gem. A tiny village perfectly restored with local stone.
- Next, leaving Volterra for now, I’ll take you to Montecatini Val di Cecina, famous for its copper mine which has been worked since the beginning of the last century, partly visible today through a gallery and close to it, an interesting informative museum. We absolutely must have a walk in the small village to cross the centuries into the Middle Ages, with views over Volterra that I can’t describe here…you must see them for yourselves.
- Coming back to Pontedera, we’ll go to Palaia, a typical Tuscan village with a strange, original access gate and a street all the way up… but here we must stop in a trattoria to sample ribollita, a Tuscan soup made with cereals, greens and stale bread, with local extra-virgin olive oil drizzled on it.
- If you want, we can stop in Vicopisano. It’s not in the Era Valley, it’s true – we’re in the Arno Valley on the road to Pisa, but Vicopisano is worth seeing, if only for the splendid, dense majestic alley of trees at its entrance. Enclosed within the stern ramparts designed by Brunelleschi, this peaceful village jealously preserves its architecture – the 13th-century towers, the government building with coat-of-arms on its façade, and a lovely Romanesque church with a very old, very rare wooden sculpture.
- Opening times for Peccioli Archaeological Museum:
1st November to 31st March: Wednesday (afternoon only), Saturday, Sunday and day-off 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3 p.m.-7 pm. 1st April to 31st October: Wednesday afternoon, Saturday, Sunday and day-off: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Here is the link to the museum: http://www.fondarte.peccioli.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13
- Opening times for the Russian Icons Museum in Peccioli:
1st November to 31st March: Wednesday (afternoon only), Saturday, Sunday and day-off, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
1st April to 31st October: Wednesday (afternoon only), Saturday, Sunday and day-off, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Here is the link to the museum: http://www.fondarte.peccioli.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12
- Mine Museum in Montecatini Val di Cecina:
5 Euro per person (adults) and 3 Euro reduced rate.
Here is the link to the museum:http://www.museodelleminiere.it/
You must have a car to visit the Era Valley, but if you prefer to be comfortably driven by a private chauffeur, ask me for a free quotation.