Tuscany has plenty upon plenty of things to do, that’s for sure. With no fewer than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the claim as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and more, it’s no surprise that Tuscany remains one of the most popular places to visit in Italy, if not the world.
And yet. Stunning though these places are, it does mean that some of the more unusual things to do get overlooked. Experiences that would top the list in lesser-endowed places fall through the travel guidebook cracks in luscious Toscana.
Well, not any more!
Behold, dear readers, let me clue you in to seven unusual things to do and see in Tuscany while still leaving room to see the classics.
Without further ado, here they are!
The Vespa museum in Pontedera, Tuscany, welcomes you not with racy Vespas and photos of celebrities, nor dashing ad campaigns. Those wait inside. Instead there’s a memorial and a polished aerobatic trainer plane, monuments to the man who began his career in aeronautical engineering but who achieved fame with a much smaller machine: the Vespa.
“This is the classic ragù that my grandmother taught me: a delicious, versatile sauce that can be used in many ways. Added to lasagne, any type of pasta, served with meatballs…” Lella from Cuoche in Vacanza
In unmarked graves, the Charterhouse monks of Calci used death to extend their earthly vows of silence into eternity.
While the brothers ran the pharmacy, the fathers lived reclusive lives, speaking only once a year and passing food between walled tunnels to avoid the temptation for a chat.
Yet despite this severity, austerity never really caught on.
The Charterhouse notches up an impressive 1500 rooms, plus a view of the leaning tower of Pisa on that infamous clear day. Living quarters come with private orchards, while cloisters overlook fountains and a gated panorama of Tuscany at its best.
Agustino Agustini greets me in the hallway of Villa di Corliano, a house, no make that a mansion, complete with a driveway that sweeps through the grounds like a flourish from a period drama. Florentine eagles flit across the vault, while whispers of ghosts hide behind chandeliers.
A chill follows us through the towering doors, while Roman statues stand guard.
Bring your binoculars and drink in the soothing silence of sunset. Look out for kingfishers and ducks amid the swaying reeds above and crayfish and eels below.
Embrace the freedom of the wide open road and those lines and lines of cypress trees by finding your own way through Tuscany. That way, you can hit the main sights of Florence or Pisa and then take in these unusual spots plus discover a few more surprises of your own.
Avis have a Road Trip Through Tuscany template you can use for inspiration.* Follow it all or just pick and choose.
Indulge in homemade jams, honey, extra virgin olive oil and a meal made from vegetables grown in the very same garden. All while taking in views of the Serchio River. Spazzamento calls this agriturismo. I call it simple pleasure.
Find out more about the Agriturismo Spazzamento here.
*Disclosure: This article has been sponsored by AVIS. However, as ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. Because life is just so much better that way. And a better life is what we all want, right?!