Tuscan Excursions

My previous post in tis series was The Pont du Gard.

In my post Points of the Compass Italian Style I wrote about the drive into Tuscany in search of our next house rental and in Our Teeny Tiny Tuscan Town I described the delightful hill town of Verrucole.

I thoroughly enjoyed our stay in our Tuscan village but, as I described in Points of the Compass, it was tucked well away in the Tuscan hills.  When we had booked and finally found our teeny tiny town on a map we immediately started checking out nearby sites  to visit.  Lucca, a place of interest with its Renaissance-era city walls was described as being 40 kms from Verrucole.  With that as our benchmark we widened our circle and boned up on interesting places to visit …

What we failed to understand until after arriving was just how high we were over the Serchio Valley …

… and how much of that 40 kms was simply coming down the mountains to the plain, which entailed manoeuvring numerous switchbacks and blind curves on narrow roads shared with the notorious Italian drivers who, apparently, know no fear.

Hence, the mere 40 kms took us an hour and a half to traverse.  The route was tiring for B the driver and not wanting to tackle it at the end of a long day, in the pale and dimpsy light, we decided to curtail some of our sightseeing and instead limited many of our adventures to the mountainous hinterland.

This was the cross-country route we took to Carrara …

Note the remote dwelling to the right of centre.  Carrara is, of course, known for its marble and we stopped roadside to view work in one of the quarries (Click on any photo to enter the gallery) – this fascinated the men while Sister and I, after a cursory look, ventured into the roadside shops.

The Carrara marble quarries are the oldest, continually used industrial site in the world.  The Pantheon in Rome is constructed of it as well as many sculptures, including Michelangelo’s David. One can only imagine the labour and difficulty in transporting such a block of marble to Florence 5 centuries ago … David stands 17 feet high.

In ancient times a wedge of wood was inserted into natural cracks in the rock. They were then filled with water to swell the wood and split the stone. Today …

Another excursion took us to Borga a Mozzano and another Devil’s Bridge (my post French Villages also highlights a Devil’s Bridge).  This is the Ponte della Maddalena across the Serchio.

It is thought to date to 1080-1100; renovated around 1300; in 1670  a decree was issued prohibiting passage over the bridge with millstones and sacks of flour to preserve the structure; repaired in 1836, and in the early 1900s an additional arch was added to accommodate a new roadway.

We also enjoyed our day that took us Acquabiana, another marble quarry …

We took a drive in the Parco Naturale dell’Orecchiella, dined on the most delicious pasta in a Mom ‘n’ Pop shop in Carrara, visited Barga – another mediaeval town of about 10,000 – and enjoyed time in our tiny village of Verrucole.

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27 thoughts on “Tuscan Excursions

  1. Never been to Italy — but my wife and I are going next year — both of us are having our 65th Birthdays — so this will be our gift to ourselves
    Thanks for the coverage

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    1. Oh, you should have a grand time! My favourites are Florence – the whole city, I love it’s ambiance, St Peter’s Basilica, the Tuscan hinterland, the Cinqueterre, Michelangelo’s David (in Florence) and his Pieta (in St. Peter’s). You might be interested in this website; http://dutchgoesitalian.com/

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  2. I’m pleased I’ve found your blog, the photography is stunning, a true artists eye when taking them. Composition is great. I can imagine the paintings you will do…

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  3. I remember a documentary about Carrara (I’m addicted to documentaries) fascinating! Is the air full of dust or is it mist in your photo? and the bridge is so beautiful 🙂

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    1. Only if you are willing to be up close and personal with various odds and sods of clothing … which, I have to say, will probably be ready for the hamper on the return trip. 🙂

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  4. Hubby and I were supposed to go to Italy in Sept, but he has been made a mentor to emerging black farmers, and is snowed under. Our trip has been postponed until April next year. I can’t wait!

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