Excursions and trips
The strategic location of The Village Holiday Centre, on the border between the Etruscan Coast and the hinterland of Pisa, allows the curious guests to easily reach both the famous cities of art and places less well known but full of charm and history.
Starting from The Village Holiday Centre you can take a different route each time, choosing one of the many possible, to discover the many art centers scattered around, the nearby coastline of natural landscapes of great beauty and details, or walk through small villages to the large discovery of Romanesque churches - in Pisa, and other medieval fortresses and watchtowers.
Some of the possible destinations:
Baratti and Populonia
Via del Ferro
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
A route between tumulus tombs and ancient buildings involved in the workings of iron, with interesting environmental features.
Via delle Cave
Duration: 2 hour
A route within a dark wood dotted with ancient quarries for the extraction of the rocks for construction and chamber tombs excavated into the rock. Along the way, a spectacular panorama over the Gulf of Baratti and the necropolis of the Caves
Via del Monastero
Duration of the visit 2 hour 30 minutes
The route breaks off from the Via della Cave and follows on in the slope opposite the promontory until it reaches the Benedictine Monastery of San Quirico and thereafter in the direction of the Acropolis of Populonia. Extremely picturesque panoramic views.
Via della Romanella
Duration of the visit 2 hour 30 minutes
Along the Via del Ferro, starts a route which leads up until the remains of the ancient wall of Populonia and then goes up to the acropolis of the city, running back to the ancient basolato-paved road hidden today by the wood.
Calci is located a few kilometres from Pisa, at the foot of the Monti Pisani and the centre of Valgraziosa. The valley looks rather like an amphitheatre and Calci is composed of the collection of hamlets that lie on its slopes.
Today Calci is a farming centre gathered around the Church of SS. Giovanni ed Ermolao and, while the lower part is surrounded by terraced olive groves, the upper part is dominated by Monte Serra, covered in pines and chestnut trees. On a clear day these heights offer a wonderful view that spans from the city of Pisa to the Tuscan Archipelago.
Due to its strategic position and its proximity to the Verruca fortress, Calci always played a part in the bloody wars between Pisa and Florence. As of the 1500s, however, the town began to develop along the course of the river, where more than 100 hydro-powered mills had been working since the last century. The pleasant climate all year round encourages walks through interesting areas that hold great natural, environmental and historical-artistic interest.
Calci boasts two sites of particular interest to tourists: the Pisa Charterhouse and the Natural History Museum of Pisa University.
The Pisa Charterhouse was founded in the 15th century thanks to the legacy of an Armenian merchant. It is a monumental Baroque style complex consisting of a large internal courtyard, used for day to day activities and as a place of meeting with the outside world, and also a series of buildings surrounding the courtyard that contain the cells, orchards and the reserved areas, as is fitting to the Carthusian living regulations. Of note amongst these is the prior's apartment, the library, the historical archive and the pharmacy. The Charterhouse was the residence of the Carthusian monks until the 1970s and is today open to the public.
One wing of the complex houses the Natural History Museum of Pisa University, comprising paleontological, mineral and zoological collections, in addition to preserving one of the largest cetacean galleries in all of Europe and new rooms dedicated to dinosaurs.
Situated on a hill overlooking the sea and the surrounding countryside, Campiglia Marittima is one of the loveliest old hill towns on the Costa degli Etruschi. Here in heart of the Val di Cornia where ancient traditions live on, remains bearing witness to the Etruscan, Roman and Medieval civilisations can be found.
The Val Fucinaia furnaces and the San Silvestro Archaeological-Mineral Park (a splendid open-air museum) tell the fascinating story of how metal was worked from Etruscan times on.
The Caldana Hot Springs at Venturina, already known in Etruscan and Roman times, are today a well equipped spa facility for mental and physical well being - The Costa degli Etruschi Wine Route - home of the prestigious Val di Cornia DOC wines - winds through olive groves, vineyards and Mediterranean scrub, where farms and producers of the excellent local extra-virgin olive oil and other delicious specialities can be found. History and folklore come alive during the fests and events held every year to celebrate feast days and the changing seasons.
The strategic position between the sea and the green hills makes Guardistallo the ideal holiday destination, alternating days of relaxation on the sea shore with inland excursions in the depths of nature.
Founded as a Lombardi castle, following the dissolving of the fiefdoms and the redistribution of the lands during the Leopoldina agricultural reformation (18th century) Guardistallo saw the development of a new class of wealthy land owners.
Villa Elena was built in 1870, the residence of one of the most important families in the area, the Marchionneschi, and some years later the theatre was constructed and became a place of recreation and relaxation for the wealthy families. Teatro Marchionneschi was opened in 1990 following an extended restoration period. With 800 person capacity and excellent acoustics it is part of a circuit of performance initiatives and activities that entertain the entire territory, particularly during the summer season.
The territory is especially renowned for olive oil, to which the spring Sagra della Crogiantina is dedicated, where the uncooked oil is best tasted poured straight on to bread. Guardistallo is also the country of the thousand nativity scenes, displayed in the ancient hamlets by the inhabitants and school students over the Christmas period. The Valserena Convent is run by a community of contemplative monks and is a wonderful day trip for anyone in search of inner calm. The monks of the convent work to produce a variety of goods, such as creams, perfumes, soaps and liqueurs that can be purchased by visitors.
While originally a Benedictine monastery, due to its strategic positioning Montescudaio became an important hamlet in the Medieval age. Along "memory lane" are the grand buildings of the noble families, such as the Marchionneschi, the Ridolfi and the Guerrini, the Church of SS. Annunziata, then to the Gatekeeper's Tower and the Piazzale del Castello, Castle Square, with the Church of Santa Maria Assunta set panoramically above the town.
The small Museum of Religious Furnishings is open for visits by request or on anniversary occasions. On route leads along the Via dei Pellegrini, or the Pilgrims' Path, the area of the ancient Abbey, the recreation area of the Scornabecchi natural oasis and the medieval points of interest. Montescudaio is part of the National Association "Città del Vino" and boasts its own DOC, which includes all the municipalities of the Cecina Valley with the exception of Volterra. The Sagra del Vino (first weekend in October) was founded in 1968, while the wine was granted the protected designation of origin standard in 1977 with two types: a red Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Malvasia and other varieties base, and a white Trebbiano, Malvasia and Vermintino base that can also be produced as dry, medium-dry or sweet vin santo.
In addition to being a Città del Vino, Montescudaio is also a Città del Pane, city of bread, with the classic unsalted bread baked in the wood-burning oven.
Casale Marittimo lies on a hill that dominates the Cecina River valley. The sea is just 12 kilometres away and the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago can be clearly seen in the distance. Stretching around the town and out to the sea is a countryside that has been worked intensely to produce cereals, oil, honey and a prized wine, the DOC Montescudaio.
Casale Marittimo is set along the route of the Wine Trails of the Etruscan Coast, which tells of a territory distinctive for its Etruscan and Roman remains and medieval hamlets, for its wooded hills, cultivated fields and slopes, landscapes that merge the greenery of the vegetation with the blue of the sea and extends invitation to enjoy natural and tasty foods.
Recent archaeological excavations in the surrounding areas have uncovered the remains of a 7th century B.C. Etruscan village, and also the necropolis of Casa Nocera, an Etruscan warrior burial structure. The medieval hamlet was founded around the year 1000 and the historical centre still bears visible signs of the events of its lifetime. The centre has remained quite intact, still featuring stone buildings, the Castle (the remains of which are part of the urban fabric) and the semi-circular ring structure of subsequent city walls. Buildings of particular interest include the Palazzo Rocca, the Church of Sant'Andrea, founded on the remains of the early rural church, and the 7th-century Santa Maria delle Grazie.
There is a busy calendar, from spring to autumn, of traditional sagre and festivals. The traditional Sagra delle Chiocciole in July and the festival of the wild boar in August are particular highlight of the various culinary events. All of these characteristics combine to make Casale an ideal destination for those who love holidays by the sea in a farmhouse, with excursions through the lush green countryside on foot, on horseback or by bicycle. It is no coincidence that the municipality has been awarded the Orange Flag by the Italian Touring Club as proof of its outstanding qualities in tourism and the protection of the environment.
The zone of Larderello puts on a natural show (lagoons, 'soffioni' geysers and hot water springs) that were long noticed by the Etruscans and the Romans who employed the boron salt in pharmaceutical use and for the preparation of enamels.
In 1818 a French trader, Francesco Giacomo Larderel, set up the first borax production plant at Montecerboli and, as a result of continued technical innovation, the borax industry became a cutting edge model in the Tuscan industrial and technical scene in just a few decades. In lieu of this the Grand Duke Leopoldo II of Lorena gave the name Larderello to one of the townships of the area in 1846, to pay homage to the founder of the borax industry.
The first recorded experiment in geothermolectric production took place in Larderello in 1904 and the world's first geothermal power station was installed in 1913.
The Geothermal Museum in Larderello was founded in 1956 and has reconstructed the distinct history of the industrial use of geothermal energy, unique in its kind in Italy, thanks to detailed and interesting apparatus, documentation and instruments. The collection comprises historical pieces that can be dated to between the mid-nineteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries and includes samples of minerals and rocks, drilling machines, in addition to the plastic models of the development of the area, descriptions and reconstructions regarding the boric acid extraction methods, drilling and electric energy production, accounting books and geological maps.
The Geothermal Museum is a veritable mine of information, intriguing to everyone and invaluable for students and experts, that documents a passage in the history of our planet.
Wine route of the Etruscan coast
Running parallel to the Tyrrhenian Coast, the Wine Route of the Etruscan Coast meanders from the high grounds that surround the valley of the river Cecina, in and around the territories of the province of Pisa and Livorno and on to the promontory of Piombino. The fine, white sandy beaches and blue sea are bordered by rolling hills of vineyards, olive groves and thick woods.
While the Route crosses a variety of different Pisan municipalities, the have intriguing and evocative environments and unpolluted settings in common. The hilly inland area is crossed by the river Cecina and is largely covered by wooded areas and Mediterranean scrub: the wines, cool and aromatic, are full bodied and reap the effects of both the proximity to the sea and the favourable conditions of the land and exposures.
The Route departs from the most southerly municipality of the province, Monteverdi Marittimo, to wind through the historically named Tre Comuni (Three Municipalities): Montescudaio, Guardistallo and Casale Marittimo. Ancient lookout points, perched on sites offering wonderful views, and medieval hamlets have recently been reunited with their original beauty thanks to a number of projects that has seen restoration operations carried out on the heart of these hamlets.
Once past the Tre Comuni the trail enters the Cecina Valley, drops towards the small enchanted castle in fairytale woods of Querceto, to then rise again to almost four hundred meters to the vineyards of the area of Sorbaiano at Montecatini Val di Cecina. After pausing in the hamlet of Riparbella, surrounded by thick woods and thriving Mediterranean scrub, the trail reaches the town of Castellina Marittima, renowned for alabaster extraction and offering fabulous views over the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The trail is highly recommended for cycling fans and opens the door to learning about this part of the Pisan territory, with the typical features of the Maremma hills that stretch between the sea and the inland hills of Tuscany. The Macchia della Magona (Magona scrub), typical of this environment and protected by the Corpo Forestale (Forestry Department), is close to Casale Marittimo and features over sixty kilometres of well kept paths that are ideal for trekking, biking and horse riding excursions in utter peace.
These are precisely the features of the territory that are the basis of great wine production: when strolling through the vineyards it is impossible to miss the unmistakable air of industrious, keen initiative of the wine makers who have invested in producing great wines (the area has two DOC wines: the DOC Montescudaio and the DOC Val di Cornia) that have contributed greatly to the Italian wine scene.
The IGT (Indication of Geographical Typicity) wines encompass such a large variety of types throughout the territory that the bond they reflect with the land depends on the particular choices made by the company. More often than not they fall into the category of wine called Supertuscans which, thanks to an accurate selection of varietal, careful vinification and ageing in small (barriques) or large (tonneaux) barrels have great structure and longevity.
La Macchia della Magona
A sea of green spreading over 1,600 hectares, this protected natural area - once a timber reserve - can be visited all year round and is an ideal holiday location for nature or sports enthusiasts.
There are sixteen routes for excursions on foot, horseback or mountain bike through 50 km of typically Tuscan scenery, dense with Mediterranean vegetation.
There are broadleaf and pine woods on the plains and hills and along the ditches. Broom, holm-oak, strawberry trees, maple and elm grow in the woods together with many shrubs typical of the Mediterranean scrub, such as mastic, guelder rose and heather.
The Macchia della Magona is an ideal habitat for numerous animals - the wild boar, roe deer, fallow deer, moufflon, hare, fox, porcupine, badger, squirrel and pine marten all make their home here, while snipe, woodpigeon and buzzard are some of the migratory birds that stop to rest.
Comune di bibbona
telephone +39 0586 672226 / 0586 672226
Open all year round.
The town is a splendid medieval village whose origins date back to before the year 1000. Situated on the slopes of the hills overlooking the Costa degli Etruschi, it is a true jewel, rich in history and art, set in the green valley of the River Cornia.
The town displays an enchanting architectural harmony and its ancient walls enclose paved streets lined with stone houses, historical buildings, impressive churches, and shadowy cloisters.
Thick cork, chestnut and oak woods, and Mediterranean scrub grow down to the sea.
The Wine Route winds its way through countryside rich with grapevines and centuries old olive trees.
The region is swarming with agricultural enterprises, oil mills, wineries, and farm-holiday resorts where you can try local products and traditional dishes
The town keeps its antique traditions alive through magical festivals inspired by history and folklore that are held throughout the year, thanks to the mild climate.
The Bolgheri wildlife refuge
A naturalistic jewel and the first WWF wildlife refuge in Italy, this internationally recognised wetland is home to thousands of aquatic birds from November to May.
Dabchicks, red heron, mallards, coots and other species nest here, while migratory birds such as the white heron, snipe and black stork stop to rest.
The Bolgheri marshes - whose beauty can best be appreciated watching from the observation hides or following the boardwalks laid over the water - are situated between a dense pinewood and a wide beach, in an area of dunes and tombolos.
Roe deer, squirrels, and pine martens, ducks and wood pigeon all find refuge in this untouched corner of old Maremma.The vegetation, thick with juniper, pines, ash and bulrushes, is reflected in the sparkling waters of the marsh.
Tomboli biogenetic nature reserve
Long lines of Tomboli - dunes covered with thick vegetation running inland from the beach - are part of an ecosystem which protects cultivated areas from the sea winds.
The Tomboli Biogenetic Nature Reserve at Cecina extends over 15 kilometres and is one of Italy's most beautiful forests.
The dense and varied vegetation changes the further it extends inland. Lilies and sea poppies flower on the beach while junipers cover the outer dunes and holm-oaks, cluster pines and umbrella pines predominate in the scrub.
The Reserve is home to a variety of animals, such as wild rabbits, foxes, weasels, porcupines, deer and badgers. Birds include doves, green woodpeckers, hoopoes and wood pigeon which spend long periods here.