Monday, May 02, 2011

A Day Escape to...

The 1st of May is a big holiday here in Italy. Technically is the workman’s holiday. But in our little borgo of Solaro, it seems to take on a whole different , and not so attractive, meaning. We live just above the “cicolo arci”, (also known semi-jokingly as the communist club) which every year holds a huge party in honor of this day. It starts at about 10 in the morning and goes until at least 10 at night. There’s an enormous BBQ which has no other path but to blow all the smoke and smells into our house plus karaoke, very bad karaoke. It’s all fine and dandy they want to celebrate, but the idea of 20-something year olds hanging out in Che Guevara or Stalin t-shirts and getting as drunk as possible, disturbs me. So, every 1st of May, it’s time to “get out of Dodge”, even if only for the day.

Lui and I made our way an hour and a half south down the coast to the “Maremma Livornese” (also known as the Etruscan Coast). Just south of Livorno, there is a whole wonderful world of charming villages, white sand beaches, good food and SUPER wines to discover. In fact, the area is probably best known for its Super Tuscans, such as Ornellaia and Sassicaia. Our destination for the day was the tiny hamlet of Bolgheri.

Getting off the super-strada at “La California” (always makes me laugh), we drove along a spring bloom filled road which led us to the famous cypress line street that takes you right up into the village. Its most prominent landmark is the castle which belonged to the counts of Gherardesca which was, along with the village, completely destroyed in WWII, but rebuilt perfectly to its earlier beauty.

There’s not a whole lot to see in Bolgheri as you can walk around the entire hamlet is about 10 minutes, but it is filled with cute shops, nice restaurants and some lovely views to enjoy. We enjoyed a good meal at L’Uva Nera, sitting in the outside patio along with a bottle of Ornellaia (their table wine for today NOT their super duper wines!).

After lunch, we “got lost” amongst some of the gorgeous and winding back roads before heading down to the sea for the long, scenic route back home, where the party was still going fairly strong, but at least we managed to avoid most of it.

I just love this area of Italy. Unlike its sister wine zone of Chianti, the Etruscan Coast feels less touched but still with exuding elegance and a whole lot of beauty. Bolgheri is just one of many lovely places to visit here. I suggest 3-4 full days to fully enjoy and appreciate the area and here are just a few ideas of what you can do and see while visiting this fabulous pot on the Tuscan Coast:

* Wine tastings and tours at Ornellaia, Petra and Tenuta Guado al Tasso.

* Day trip to the island of Elba

* Visit the beautiful Suvereto and Castagneto Carducci in addition to Bolgheri

* See some of the better known sites such as Pisa or Volterra

* Spend the day at the beach!

Add the Etruscan Cost to your list of places to visit on your next trip to Italy. You won’t be disappointed!


Valerie said...

My friend also gave me that same day trip recommendation, Megan - thank you for the photos. Being a wine geek, I look forward to just renting a car and spending time here. (My friend also recommended Castiglione. You've established yourself in my little mind as the Liguria expert and hope you wouldn't mind if I referred friends to you as a resource in the future!

Pete said...

Great article, it sounds a great place to visit! I'll have to add it to my ever expanding list... ;)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like another place to put on the "bucket list"! Terrific photos!

Murissa said...

lovely photos!
The ravioli looks so amazing and freshly made!

The Wanderfull Traveler

Anonymous said...

I miss your Friday blogs!

Istria said...

Very beautiful photos!!