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Surrounded entirely by 16th century walls, the gorgeous city of Lucca sits on an alluvial plateau near the Serchio river, 19 meters above sea level. Located 23km Northeast of Pisa, 80km West of Florence and within easy reach of Siena, Lucca is a jewel of Northern Tuscany and an excellent base from which to explore further Italian wonders. To the North of Lucca lie the Apuane Alps with their famous marble quarries, spas and mineral water springs, wonderful for the curious explorer.

Home to a series of intricately decorated parish churches, castles and medieval hospitals, Lucca itself is thriving with history and culture. A steady climb up the Guinigi Tower rewards the effort with superb views of the city in all directions. Casa Guinigi was the fifteenth-century home of Lucca’s leading family, who like most rich families of their time, built a tower as a symbol of their wealth and power. This tower, however, is unique for the oak trees that grow from it (and down in to the room below). Lucca also offers an eclectic mix of fine Tuscan cuisine to satisfy any palate.

Lucca was the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, one of Italy's most famous operatic composers. Today it is possible to visit the house in which he was born, which is now a museum. Guests choosing to rent Villa Elisabetta during the months of May through to August can also enjoy the renowned Puccini Festival, in an open-air theater in nearby Torre del Lago. The theatre opens out directly onto a stunning view of Lake Massaciuccoli with the Apuane Alps in the background. For the younger members of your group, the neighboring town of Collodi, birthplace of Pinocchio, offers the delightful Pinocchio Park.

With Florence just over an hour’s drive away, a day-trip to Italy’s ‘capital of art’ is a must for any of our guests. See Michelangelo’s David in the academia art gallery, enjoy a visit to the world famous Uffizi Museum, and stroll through the Piazza Signoria with its impressive medieval buildings.

For food lovers, local farms selling some of Tuscany’s best olive oil are on your doorstep, and there are open air markets in one village or another almost every day of the week. A visit to one of the famous vineyards in the vicinity (such as Tenuta di Ghizzano and Tenuta di Valgiano) gives a unique opportunity to view the wine making process from beginning to end…and purchase a few bottles for the evening dinner! The weekly local market in Lucca is every Wednesday and Saturday morning, and the antique market is every third Sunday of the month.

For the more active, there is excellent walking in the hills around your villa. Horse-back riding and mountain biking can also be organized, and several 18 hole golf courses are within a 30/40 minute drive. And last but not least, there is the shopping! The outlet stores near Incisa and  Arezzo provide endless retail therapy opportunities, and then there are the leather goods and hand made paper that Florence is so famous for and the wonderful olive oil that is produced throughout the region…

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