I am sitting in my farmhouse bedroom listening to the rain outside while writing this – well of course that is why Tuscany is so lush and green. This is my first trip to Tuscany and I was amazed at finding such a treasure that I had never even thought of visiting before. I went on an Exodus trip and I couldn’t have done it any other way as the first thing that struck me was that we were shown walks and paths, little old towns that I would never have found myself.
We stayed at Braccicorti an agricultural tourisme which is a farmhouse that provides accommodation and supports the local community. All the food is produced locally so that not only are we supporting the family at the farmhouse but a number of families in the local region!
The food is traditional Tuscan style made freshly by Mama and her daughters. Each day we have been served with a wholesome, hearty starter, a lighter main course and a sweet dessert. So here are a couple of the menus to give you a taste of Tuscany
Chopped strawberries in a syrup
On Sunday we went on a full days walk – The Valley Walk. We went straight from Braccicorti – out of the property up the hill and walked across to Pianacci. There were 10 of us on this small walking trip organised by Exodus. We explored the local area across undulating hills and stopped at a local café – We walked through lush green countryside with fresh water springs.
Lunch at a local café in villa Collemandina which suddenly burst into life at around 2.30 when people came out and the town was buzzing. We then walked through Castigliome di Garfagnama and back to Braccicorti for dinner!
Pork escallopes with sauté potatoes and vegetables
Pannacotta with berry sauce
On Monday we took the train to Cinque Terre (five lands) where you can get a little train between each of the seafront towns – but we walked over the mountain (which took a couple of hours) with lots of steps.
A full fabulous day out and then we returned for another delicious Tuscan dinner.
On Tuesday we went to Castelnuova situated at the confluence of 2 rivers and is the capital city of the Garfagnana one of those fabulous spots that had I not been on an Exodus tour with a local guide I would have driven straight past! You had to walk into the centre of the town to see the old town with a central square perched on top of a hill. Boutique shops , cafes and bars and the best ice cream shops in the world.
We then took a walk up to the very top to see the old castle with magnificent views of the surrounding lush green mountains of the Alpane for a picnic lunch. After which we walked around the knoll and down along the terraced mountainside with an Amphitheatre vineyard back into the town for another ice cream – it would be rude not to!
Tomato and chili penne pasta
Bresola, sliced parmesan, melon and fresh olives
Nepolitana Ice cream
Wednesday we took the local train at 8.30 to to the magnificent city of Lucca.
A walled city, with a number of churches and a cathedral, inside the city walls. We started at a café for espresso and local pastries and then walked through the city where we saw the amazing art and sculptures in the churches , the boutique shops and Piazza Anfiteatro , a circular “square” with cafes .
After lunch we hired bikes and cycled on the wide promenade wall around the city. We headed back to Villetta the train station close to Braccicorti and stopped for drinks and dinner at the local restaurant Il Grotto.
Thursday was a free day for the group, and most of the group went into Piza to walk up the leaning tower.
And on our last day we went to Il Grotto Vente (The wind caves) and then onto Barga town for a scrumptious Italian ice cream.
We finished with a beer at the lake close to Barccicoti and came back in time for a final dinner.
Pan fried trout
Chocolate ice cream