Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 20, 2014

Places to go

One of the reasons we love Bagni di Lucca is because it is so central to lots of places we like to visit, whether just for the day or for an overnight stay.

Here are just some of my favourite places within a few hours of Bagni di Lucca…in no particular order. If you click on the name of the town, a post I have written previously will appear as if by magic.

Portovenere is on the Ligurian coast, just north of La Spezia. It is one of our regular day trips. We have also stayed overnight in the Grand Hotel, which offers fabulous views over the town. The coastline here is spectacular and there are a couple of tiny streets full of interesting shops, restaurants and places to buy delicious pesto, produced in the area from the very best basil.

Siena is a gorgeous Tuscan town which has my favourite church in all of Italy. On my first visit I was lucky to be there very early in the morning and was the only person there. Now that you have to pay to go in and it is more regulated that is unlikely ever to happen again. I will never forget the magnificent interior appearing as my eyes adjusted to the low light. The walking tour of Siena is a treat not to be missed.

Florence is an obvious choice. I often go with no particular agenda, just wandering the gorgeous streets is. I always catch the bus as driving there is awful and finding a park worse.

Orvieto sits marvellously on top of a tufa plug. I say hello every time I go past on the train between Rome and Florence and I visit as often as I can. We usually stay overnight as it is a 3 hour drive from Bagni di Lucca and there is much too see and do in Orvieto. The underground tour through some of the tunnels under the town is really worth doing.

Bologna is another place I like to stay overnight. It is a university city and has a vibrant atmosphere and a wonderful food culture. The street food markets here are my favourite in Italy. I really need to stay long enough to do some serious food shopping and cook at home. On a previous visit I climbed to the top of the very high tower in the centre of town for an excellent view.

Milan…don’t let anyone tell you this is an ugly industrial town. It is full of the most elegant shops in the world and some of the most stylish people you will see anywhere. If you are interested in fashion Milan should be on your list of places to visit. It has fabulous restaurants and galleries and a magnificent cathedral that defies description.

Forte dei Marmi is only an hour away from Bagni di Lucca by car and we go often, sometimes just for lunch at one of our favourite restaurants, Il Fortino. The town is full of elegant shops and has a pier over the water which offers spectacular views of the marble mountains behind the town.

Montalcino is a famous wine town. Like many Tuscan towns it sits prettily on a hill with stunning views over the surrounding countryside. A couple of years ago I went for the weekend to be part of the Sagra del Tordo, and incredible festival where the whole town is involved in an archery competition. Everybody dresses up in wonderful costumes, feasts on delicious food and watches the exciting competition.

Asciano is a tiny town not far from Siena. While is is quite a cute little place it is actually the road to Asciano that we like so much. To get to the town you drive over some of the most spectacular scenery in Tuscany. After leaving Asciano we usually head off to another favourite place….

Pienza is a tiny town, once again high above the plains surrounding it. Pope Pius II recreated the town as a perfect monument to himself. He chose Florentine architect Bernado Rossellino to good effect…the town is delightful.

Volterra is an Etruscan town with a fine set of Roman ruins. It is not as busy as nearby San Gimignano and Siena, but is well worth a visit. We have been a few times and always find something interesting to see.

San Gimignano is the city of towers. It is a little spoiled by the sheer number of tourists who go there. Most of the tourists leave at about 5.00pm, so staying overnight is a good option. In the evening you get to have the town to yourself and can wander peacefully through this beautiful place.

Verona is a very pretty town with an amazing amphitheatre from ancient times which is still in use. It is also very stylish and great for an overnight stay. It is on the trainline between Bologna and Venice…my next favourite place to visit.

Venice can’t be left off the list. On a good day Venice sparkles like a jewel. Riding on the vaporetto down the Grand Canal has to be one of the very best things you can do. I also love the less visited islands of Burano and Torcello. We usually take the train to Venice and stay for a couple of night and just wander…getting lost in Venice is compulsory.

Lucca is just 30 minutes drive, or 40 minutes by bus from Bagni di Lucca and one of the loveliest towns in all of Italy.

Of course there are many more places to visit around Bagni di Lucca, but they can wait until next time.



  1. Wonderful places.

    • Too many to choose from.

  2. So, we are now officially homesick for lovely Bagni di Lucca. It really is a great location to visit all of these beautiful cities and villages.

    • You are missed in Bagni di Lucca. You need to come back soon.

  3. You are right, Debra. So many beautiful and interesting places to choose from. We are totally spoiled!

    • I think we are very lucky to be able to spend time in this gorgeous part of the world.

  4. I am planning to be there soon and after reading this I am even more excited. You are a great ambassador for Bagni di lucca Debra

    • I love the area and am delighted to share it with everyone. I will be back in Australia next week for a few weeks and I know I am going to miss Bagni di Lucca.

  5. Positively salivating :):)

    • You will have to come back soon.

  6. Fantastic post Debra! Want to come back now!

    • I hope you come back to BdL one day soon.

  7. Wow so many amazing places that you could never get bored!

    • I could never be bores in Italy.

  8. Lovely places! There are some I had visited and others not yet, but nonetheless, the desire to be back again is as strong as the desire to visit new ones! Thanks so much!

    • Once Italy gets under you skin it is difficult to stay away.

      • Is very true!

  9. Fabulous images, Debra. If only….. 🙂

    • Italy is full of incredible places to visit. I feel very lucky to be able to spend lots of time here.

  10. A few of my favourite places and a few more that I’d love to see, what a wonderful location Bagni di Lucca is and now I really want to pack my bags and move to Italy.

    • Bagni di Lucca is very well situated and it is great tp be able to come back to a small village where we feel at home.

  11. Very interesting place, indeed…

    • We are very happy that we bought our apartment here 10 years ago.

  12. Thanks for the round-up, Debra. We can tick off Lucca, Siena, Firenze, San Gimignano, Volterra, Venezia, Milano and of course Bagni di Lucca itself…but there are still plenty to go!

    • These are just a few of my favourite places. We are torn between finding new towns to vist and revisiting ones we love.

  13. A good selection -I’d add Pistoia and Prato as being very close to us

    • I love both Pistoia and Prato…I will have to start another list.

  14. What a fantastic set of recommendations, all added to my wish list!! Great blog, thanks! Lizzie

    • It is difficult to pick just a few favourite places in Italy.

      • Tell me about it!! Am planning 3-4 month trip but could easily fill 12!! :o)

  15. I couldn’t agree more: getting lost in Venice is just amazing! And you lose the tourist masses, yes!
    Lots and lots to see in the coming years, thanks!

    • Even if you don’t want to you will get lost in Venice and it is wonderful.

  16. Well you’ve just proven that I need to get back to Italy – although I’ve been to quite a few of these places, there are many I haven’t and they all look wonderful! Great post!

    • I hope you get the ones you have missed.

  17. Such wonder, fun and beauty and food, glorious food. I have a preference for all of those things!

    • Yes, there is always the food!

  18. So beautiful photographs, fascinated me again. Thank you dear Debra, I heard that there was flood in Italy, I hope and wish you are not in there. Love, nia

    • We have had lots of rain, but apart from some road closures, Bagni di Lucca is OK. Thank you for your concern.

  19. Great Photo’s much appreciated by those of us who are away from Bagni at present.You are absolutely right about Bagni’s location – so much can be reached with just a couple of hours drive.

    • It is amazing how much is within easy reach of our lovely village.

  20. Fantastic bunch of possibilities!

    • The possibilities are endless in Italy.

  21. Wow, you really are close to lots of great places! No wonder you chose Bagni!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Bagni di Lucca is remarkable central to lots of places we like…just one of many reasons we love it here.

  22. I’m very happy to see that you liked Portovenere, that’s very near where I live and I’m used to go there to bathe in summer! It’s a magic place 🙂

    • We love Portovenere and go as often as we can. It is a beautiful seaside town.

  23. Fabulous posting….also our favorite places and we have been to all but four and three of those we will see this spring. That will leave only Milan which is not high on my list. So looking forward to coming tp Bagni di Lucca in March. Your photography is beyond specular. Thank you for sharing.

    • I hope we get to meet in March. I will be back from Australia on 11th March.

  24. Hi there Debra, always enjoy your posts. I am very excited to have just purchased a home in Vico, I collect the keys on the 7th and start planning the renos. YAH!! I have some lovely friends John & Grahame already living in the village. I also have a mutual friend Justin Telfer, he is Judith Wassell’s son, he joined me when I visited Vico in 2012. He also feel in love the village and surrounding area. Lets catch up for a coffee when I’m there in February? cheers, shane 🙂

    • I remember Judith telling me about your tirp to Bagni di Lucca. I think you visited some cheese makers with Heather. Congratulations on buying a house in fabulous Vico Pancellorum. We will have to have dinner one day at Buca di Baldabo, one of my favourite restaurants here. How long are you staying? I fly home to Australia today and won’t be back until 11th March.

  25. Aaah, I must get back to Italy! Great post, you’ve covered a lot of ground here 🙂

    • There is so much to see in Italy. I love to discover new places, but I also like to revisit favorites.

  26. This post affirms my friend’s description of Italy as “one long museum” … Great post and thanks for rubbing it in. 😉 … and consider the voting done.

    • Thank you for the vote! I think you need another visit to Italy soon.

      • Never soon enough. But I’m hoping that the next trip will be three weeks – especially if we can stay were my cousin offered.

      • That sounds like a plan.

  27. Italy is such an incredible country and this post shows how different each area is and how you just really need to see each one at least once in your life 😀

    • I try to spend time in a different place each time I go to Italy, but favourites keep drawing me back.

  28. Debra,

    I am often impressed by your sense of composition in many of your photographs. Did you study composition or is it a natural gift? The last, tall frame for the road to Asciano is amazing! There are others, but that one really captivates me. If (and I want to do this very much!) I ever pick up my paints again, may I use this image as a “model” for a painting? Maybe when Martha and I “retire” and emigrate to Italy, I’ll have time to indulge my creative talents again. If you agree and I do the painting, I’ll do two – one for you to take to Brisbane to remind you of Italy while you’re there.

    • I have not studied photography. I really only started taking photos when I started the blog 4 years ago. I have a very good subject in Italy. I would love you to use my photos to inspire your painting! And I would love to see the result.

  29. What a fantastic selection of places to go Debra. You’ve reminded me of many fabulous places that I have been and some that I really do want to go to (like Bologna).

    • Bologna really is one of my favourite places in Italy. The architecture alone is good enough reason to go…and then there is the food.

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