The countryside and castles of the Valdinievole are found in the very heart of Tuscany, between Pistoia and Lucca, and for centuries was a cross-road of culture, exchange and meetings.
From Montecatini Terme, lifting your gaze towards the amphitheatre of hills that surround the town, you can discover something of the history of this area. Old fortifications, the narrow … of the houses in a medieval village, the bell tower of a church, stand between the olive trees of the hills of the Valdinievole.
The ten old ‘castles’ that surround Pescia, one of the larger historic towns of the Valdinievole, make up the ‘Svizzera pesciatina’ or Swiss Pescia. Pietrabuona, Fibbialla, Aramo, San Quirico, Castelvecchio, Sorana, Stiappa, Pontito and Vellano are ancient hill-top villages that remind one of a fairy-tale world.
These old villages, enclosed by their ancient walls, once surveyed the boundaries of the states of Lucca and Florence. The castles can still be visited if you follow their traces from the past in the narrow climbing streets, the old stone walls and ancient paths under chestnut trees, that connect the villages in the tranquil countryside of the Valdinievole.
During a visit of the Valdinievole you will find old villages such as Uzzano, Stignano, Buggiano Castello, Massa, Cozzile, Monsummano Alto, Montevettolini, Larciano Castello as far as Serravalle.
The Valdinievole is the land of Pinocchio, the most famous puppet in the world. In fact, the mother of Carlo Lorenzini, the author of Pinocchio, is born here, in Collodi, part of Pescia, where the humble family lived and worked. At Collodi, one can visit the Pinocchio Park, a beautiful garden where nature and sculpture bring the fairy story to life. Nearby is the Garzoni Garden, a marriage of gardens, flowers and water, and the attractive Butterfly House.
Another place worth a visit is the Santuario della Madonna del Buon Consiglio which houses a cycle of frescoes painted by Pietro Annigoni and his pupils, from 1967. The frescoes feature several biblical themes, such as ‘The Prophet Isaia and Geremia’, ‘The Deposition and Resurrection of Christ’, ‘The Last Supper’, and ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’.
The Valdinievole is, therefore, a place where one can immerse oneself in the discovery of Tuscany.