Tuscany is an area of Italy I’ve never really discovered -I’ve visited & stayed in Florence and Pisa, but have never before experienced the rolling hills and fields full of sunflowers, which seem to be so associated with this part of Italy. But, in the first week of September, that was put right, with a stay in a small Tuscan town, about 30 km south west of Pisa (where we flew into direct from Manchester), called Santa Luce. Sadly, we’d missed the sunflowers in full bloom, but it was still very, very warm! And even though we’d had a lovely English summer, it was a different kind of warmth – an Italian warmth.

We were staying with friends, so the villa we stayed in was slightly bigger and more grand than if we had been on our own, but a gorgeous way to end a very busy summer and begin a bit of relaxation…

 

Santa Luce is a small town. You definitely need your own transport as it’s also fairly isolated. However, it is possible to get to Pisa, Florence and Lucca for a day trip as motorway access is good (the FiPiLi – Florence Pisa Livorno road – is the quickest way to get around the region). We visited the Tuscan coast – there are plenty of beaches along the “Toscana Riviera” but Vada, with its white sand fringed with pine woods,  is probably the most well known…

A little further afield, but well worth the drive, is the medieval walled hilltop town of San Gimignano, famous for its fourteen towers of varying heights, which dominate the skyline. The town is very much geared up for tourism – there are huge car parks at the foot of the hill and the streets are full of shops selling miniature towers etc – but it is still a must see. We were lucky that we visited on a Tuesday in early September – not a weekend in July or August – as there weren’t crowds and it was easy to get around. And find a parking space, which I guess are at a premium in the height of summer…