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Pescia is a wealthy market town famous for it's flower market and Vellano is in the foothills of the Appenines and known as 'Svizzera Pesciatini' as it resembles the lower alps. The area has the most wonderful views across densely wooded hillsides studded with medieval hilltop villages. Northern Tuscany is not as touristy as southern Tuscany and is relatively undiscovered which is a large part of it's charm. Not many of the locals speak English so the area seems quintessentially Italian, the food in nearly all of the local trattorias is cooked using fresh, local ingredients and is very reasonably priced.
The area is often part of the 'Tour de Italia' although it isn't for faint hearted cyclists! There are many ancient walking paths up and across the mountains and woods, some for a short walk and others which would take a half or whole days trekking. Vellano itself is a lovely medieval village, the streets are pedestrianised and are well worth exploring as you follow steep cobbled paths winding amongst the houses.
From Pescia you can pick up the autostrada and go to Florence, Pisa, Tuscan Riviera, Lucca, Carrara, Pietrasanta, Vinci, Montecatini Terme, Prato, Pistoria and host of other wonderful towns or seaside villages, most are 30-60 mins away. There are several swimming pools close to Pescia for the summer months. Children will love taking the funiculare from Montecatini Terme up to Montecatini Alto, and the museum in Vinci is very interesting. Kids also love tearing up to the Duomo in Firenze, and cycling around the old walls of Lucca. It would be fair to say that Lucca is a favourite town for many, it is sophisticated, cultured, beguiling and beautiful and steeped in history. Most tourists flock to Pisa and Florence, but perhaps the more discerning bother to stop in Lucca.
This part of northern Tuscany was fought over by the Pisans, Lucchese and Florentines; it was party to the birth of the renaissance and can lay claim to hundreds of magnificent works of art and architecture. As a guest once commented 'in Italy there is beauty around every corner'.
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