One of the most laid back, beautiful places in Italy or the world for that matter, is of course Tuscany. Absolutely unspoilt by tourists. Rolling hills of poplar trees, olive groves and sunflowers as far as the eye can see.
You can either fly to Rome, pick up a hire car at the airport and drive north, just follow the motorway signs to Firenze (Florence), takes about two hours, and there’s plenty of rustic Trattoria’s to stop for lunch along the way.
Or perhaps, for a more relaxed trip, start your journey by flying to Genoa, which is in the northern region of Liguria, pick up the A12 coast road and head south, following the signs to Rome. Both journeys are a pleasant experience. Both will take you to Tuscany.
I actually prefer the latter, with the simple little airport at Genoa, without the hustle and bustle of Rome and it’s got a great pizza oven, (hey, I’m a food blogger, what do you expect) where the friendly staff cook your preferred choice, can’t get more laid back than that.
So much more civilized than the big airports where everyone’s jostling for position. This actually made a real difference to our trip, because I actually don’t like flying, and this was the most stress free airport I’ve ever been to!
Genoa is the birthplace of many a famous person including, navigator Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo), and composer Niccolo Paganini, not forgetting pesto (there goes my stomach again) You could wander around here all day, through the beautiful parks, or stroll through the medieval town, once the arch-rival of Venice, and equal to any European old town.
Journeying south to Aulla, you’ll be able to take in the Carrara mountains on your left, which look like they’re topped with snow, but it’s actually marble, which the Romans used to extract and ship to Rome. They’ve used it for the Coleseum, the Vatican, Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Duomo in Florence, and Michelangelo used it for his famous sculpture of “David” and personally visited the site to select his block. You can even drive right up to the excavation site if you have time.
On your right keep an eye out for the whales taking a break in the sanctuary of the Ligurian Sea.
After about a 2 hour drive you’ll arrive at Aulla, founded around 884 when the Abbey of Saint Caprasio was built.
The Brunella Fortress dominates the town, as it looks down from above and definitely worth a visit, the views from here are amazing!
Make sure you pay a visit to the Natural history museum of Lunigiana in the main square. It’s a quiet little town, with few shops, but a large supermarket caters for all types of groceries.
It’s better to park the car and just wander around the town. You can enjoy the market, and festivals at your leisure.