In Tuscany, the sun always shines. Autumn brings a very special meaning to Tuscany. The countryside is rich with porcini and truffle mushrooms, and the afternoons are bathed in golden light and magical landscapes that take your breath away. Barga is known for its beautiful landscapes, interesting history, Scottish influence, famous prosciutto, pecorino cheese, olives, honey, and unique local ingredients specific to that region. The local eateries offer Tuscan specialties in the most authentic way. Barga has a cultural connection to Scotland, resulting in their annual fish and chip festival, Sagra del Pesce e Patate, which happens every summer.
Barga’s famous and magnificent duomo stands iconic against the landscape of the postcard-perfect Tuscan mountains. Walk the Ponte della Maddalena (Devil’s Bridge) and visit the unforgettable Grotta del Vento of Fornovolasco, where time stands still through many centuries, displaying magnificent imagery to remember.
The beautiful Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa is Barga’s hospitality gem overlooking the peaceful Serchio Valley. It is one of the most relaxing and rewarding travel destinations among the Tuscan hills. The property offers beautiful rooms with a view of the Tuscan mountains. You can also enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains relaxing by the pool.
Barga’s architecture resembles a Renaissance painting that reveals the influence that Florence has had on the city since 1341.
The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa resort offers several exciting experiences, including Le Salette Cooking Class, which is one of my favorites. It is led by a skilled Head Chef Lorenzo Venanzi, who makes it engaging, memorable, interactive, and fun. Craft mouthwatering local dishes, master Tuscan pasta, bake Tuscan pies and then enjoy it all on a beautiful terrace with a view among old or new friends while sipping delicious local wines.
The outdoor pool is situated among the picturesque mountains, inviting you to relax and observe the panoramic views. But when you are in the mood for outdoor activities and some exercise, visit Cinque Borghi and hike through the little villages and vineyards. You can visit local churches, discover tales of the locals, then indulge in a well-deserved lunch at Agriturismo Pian di Fiume, where you can appreciate freshly picked porcini and local ingredients well mastered with their Tuscan dishes.
Autumn brings chestnuts, as they are in season in the mountains of Garfagnana, and they play an essential part in Tuscan kitchens in the months of fall. New wine and new olive oil are ripe and ready for you to appreciate them. These are the moments to take advantage of. Visit Tuscany’s legendary countryside, explore its gorgeous medieval towns, discover beautiful Renaissance churches, and enjoy delicious cuisine from the Tuscan region.
One of the best traditional Tuscan activities includes a visit to the Charming city of Lucca! The artistic town of 100 churches. Lucca is a famous destination for serious music lovers. It’s the home of Giacomo Puccini, the famous Italian composer of “Madame Butterfly” and “La Bohème.” Lucca is also known for its famous Lucca Summer Music Festival in July, where grand international artists perform live; John Legend, Zucchero, and Justin Bieber, just to name a few…
In the heart of Lucca stands a historic property, the Grand Universe Lucca hotel. It was recently rebuilt and is full of interesting surprises. The hotel offers an introductory Lucca tour by bike, “Bikes & Bites,” which comes with a picnic experience. It guarantees you to fall in love with Lucca forever. Ride your bike among the walls of the old city of Lucca, inhale the beautiful landscape views, find a spot with the best view, and enjoy lunch, diligently packed for you with love by the Grand Universe hotel staff.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are always available at the Legacy Bistro Wine Bar, their onsite restaurant, and dinner at La Veranda offers a delicious Tuscan culinary extravaganza. You will enjoy exploring the local wines paired with traditional and non-traditional menu offerings.
Grand Universe Lucca is a historical destination blending different eras of Italian history, from antiquity until today. From the existing building wall foundations dating back to Roman times to the ancient glassblower’s fountain remnants in the cellar, where they offer a local wine-tasting experience for the hotel guests. You can appreciate the property’s beautiful classic yet contemporary design and its perfect location.
One of the memorable experiences is a pre-dinner sip of Martin Orsyn Champagne at the Sommitá Rooftop Bar at the Grand Universe Lucca’s most romantic setting. Their 2022 debut of Sommità Martin Orsyn Champagne Rooftop is Italy’s first Martin Orsyn branded terrace. You will never forget the glorious sunset and the skyline of Lucca’s rooftops as they offer breathtaking panoramic views of the city. You can indulge in tasting their four cuvées and a curated menu of culinary pairings designed to enhance each of the champagnes. The menu highlights oysters, beef tartare trio with black truffle, prawns flambé with brandy, and hand-cut Iberian Pata Negra Spanish ham with a selection of cheeses. A sommelier is also at guests’ service to help guide pairings that best suit the proposed dishes. The rooftop offers intimate seating and a VIP observatory of the moon and historic Teatro del Giglio ~ a perfect setting for a love story.
There is more magic to add to your itinerary ~ ‘Prelude of Existence,’ where the local composer, Andrea Anfuso, curates a personal musical prelude after meeting with you and understanding your key personality traits and your unique energy expression. Yes, you get to bring home an original masterpiece created just for you.
Lucca is a city to remember, and the best view of Lucca is a climb of the Guinigi Tower from where you admire the beauty of the hanging garden and the city’s skyline. Then make your way to the famous gardens of the Villa Pfanner. It has an extensive collection of antique artifacts from the Middle Ages, where you will recognize the glorious backdrop from many famous movies.
After the restoration of the Republic in 1430, Lucca remained the only independent city in Tuscany, enjoying wealth and peace until the French invasion in 1799. Experience the Italian way of life, blend with the locals, and stroll to Piazza Anfiteatro; it is Lucca’s heart and soul and one of the locals’ favorite spots. The area offers many great restaurants. There was a time when people would gather there to cheer on the raucous ancient Roman shows. Today they come here for aperitif and gelato, dinner with loved ones or friends, or just to chill.
Another beautiful historic church in the center of Lucca is the Basilica di San Michele which displays a unique front façade. The original church is from the 8th century. You can find many hidden symbols and drawings on the columns inside and outside of the cathedral. Above the main arches of the façade are four rows of ornate arches and columns that feature various colors and designs. Above each arch, there are beautiful artworks depicting various wild animals. The stonework around the rose windows shows exquisite craftsmanship, as important artworks by Luca della Robbia and Filippino Lippi are inside the cathedral.
Lucca is known for its many beautiful churches, but the most ancient one is Basilica di San Frediano. Lucca is a small city, so you can walk around and explore Piazza Anfiteatro, Via Fillungo, the city Towers, San Michele Church, and the Cathedral, where you can admire the ‘Volto Santo,’ which is the prominent symbol of Lucca since the Middle Ages, and the beautiful memorial of Ilaria del Carretto (she was a wife of the Lord of Lucca from the beginning of the XV Century). You can also visit Puccini’s museum and enjoy gelato and espresso with live music at the local cafe. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can get lucky and discover amazing finds at the local vintage market.
In Tuscany, food plays an integral part in everyday life. Love for food is love for the people who prepare it and eat it. According to the legend, Catharine de Medici introduced Crostini Toscanini ~ a Florentine dish, to Paris. Today, thanks to Cristini Toscanini, Foie Gras became an important dish in France.
I will leave you with dreamy, lazy, golden afternoons in Tuscany sipping a glass of Chianti while inhaling aromas of fresh olive oil, salami, freshly baked focaccia, and soaking in the warm rays of a golden sun!
Words by Elle Taylor
TurisLucca Lucca Walking Tour https://en.turislucca.com/itineraries/itineraries-in-lucca/city-of-lucca/
Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa: www.renaissancetuscany.com
Grand Universe Lucca
Prelude of Existence https://www.granduniverselucca.com/experiences-packages
Bikes & Bites https://www.granduniverselucca.com/services-and-amenities