The villages of the Terre di Pisa are filled with flavors, country scents, towers and castles. Lovers of the medieval ages absolutely cannot miss these gems, nestled among the rolling hills that surround the city of the Leaning Tower.
Here's our selection of the 10 villages to visit at least once in a lifetime!
San Miniato is a medieval gem located halfway between Pisa and Florence and is the perfect stop along the Via Francigena to savor delicious food (it's the capital of the white truffle!). The medieval layout of the city has remained intact. The event you simply must attend is the National White Truffle Market Exhibition held every year in November, when truffle hunters, cooks and journalists come to taste the local gastronomic specialties and buy truffles.
Vicopisano is a small medieval village on the Pisan Mountains that preserves remarkable architectural treasures. It's wonderful to think that there is a medieval fortress designed by Brunelleschi, two medieval buildings dating to the twelfth century, a castle and 12 towers dating between the 11th and 15th century. A perfect time of the year to visit Vicopisano is the first weekend of September, when the Medieval Festival takes place, and the whole village goes back in time with costumes and local cuisine, as well as shows and entertainment.
Not far from Vicopisano, we find the small and charming village of Calci, surrounded by olive and chestnut trees. Its main attraction is certainly the monumental complex of the Certosa di Calci, one of the most important monasteries of the Carthusian order in Italy. Founded in 1366, the Certosa di Calci was completely renovated in the 17th century and transformed with frescoes, marble, and more. There's also a large courtyard where a baroque facade stands, together with many other rooms used as sacristy, chapels, a library and pharmacy. Today, a wing of the Charterhouse is now the Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa.
Castelfranco di Sotto is a historic medieval village created as a castle in 1255 and located about 40 kilometers west of Florence and about 30 kilometers east of Pisa. Castelfranco was formed in the period of continuous struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines and between the cities of Pisa, Lucca and Florence. The village still retains its centuries-old urban plan with two main roads crossing and leading to the four gates, marking four identical neighborhoods.
The Tuscan village of Chianni around since the times of the first Etruscan and Roman settlements, was known as an area rich in woods and game: a 'vocation' that has come down to the present day. Here, every family is handed down the secret recipe of wild boar with olives, a traditional dish that's honored in October with the festival of the same name. The event is also an opportunity to taste the "other" flavors of Chianni, such as 'Marrone di Rivalto' and extra virgin olive oil, two excellent products of the area.
Another village of the Terre di Pisa that we recommend you visit is Terricciola, interesting for its culture and its winemaking tradition. Here, you can find annual initiatives that are much loved by tourists and locals, such as the strawberry festival, the White Night of Wine and Calici di Stelle. As you will have understood, the territory produces excellent wines best served with the traditional dishes.
Known for its Palio delle Contrade, Buti is a jewel in the Pisan hills. In the town ,you can visit the Medici Villa Castel Tonini which overlooks the town, the Romanesque church of San Francesco and that of the Ascension, also known as Santa Maria delle Nevi. Among the traditional products of the territory, try the Tuscan extra virgin olive oil IGP: the harvest is still carried out in accordance with the historic tradition.
The village of Lari, of Etruscan origin, is also located in the hills of the Terre di Pisa. You must visit the Castle of the Vicegerents, a fortress protected by majestic walls dating back to the early Middle Ages. In Lari, we also find the small Martelli pasta factory which produces handcrafted semolina pasta. The incredible views make Lari a place loved by couples who often choose to celebrate their wedding here.
The streets of Palaia have been the setting for numerous film productions. Here, some scenes for the films The night of San Lorenzo and Fiorile by the Taviani brothers as well as N (Napoleon and I) by Paolo Virzì were shot.
In addition to the Etruscan village of Palaia, other towns in its surroundings are worth a visit, such as Toiano and Montefoscoli. Toiano, is known for being one of the ghost villages of Tuscany, while in Montefoscoli there are signs for the Temple of Minerva Medica: many studies attest that this building, in addition to being a memorial used as a place for recreation and entertainment, was also a Masonic temple.
The village of Peccioli was awarded the Orange Flag by the Italian Touring Club and is a pearl of the Valdera that's absolutely worth visiting. The Praetorian Palace, for example, houses the interesting Museum of Russian Icons, dedicated to the journalist Francesco Bigazzi, a correspondent from Moscow who donated his collection of 19th and early 20th century icons to the Municipality of Peccioli. Peccioli also organizes many cultural and theatrical events, for both adults and children, including Tuscania Festival and 11Lune.