Summer in Tuscany, Part 1

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”
– Giuseppe Verdi

I was so happy to spend two weeks in Italy with my family this September. Italy will always be a special place to me because we used to go there on family holidays every year during my childhood (always in autumn because then it was less expensive and there were fewer people).
Besides the good weather, the beautifully historical architecture and the marvellous food, I have over time also fallen in love with the Italian language and with Italian music (if you want I would be happy to share my favourite Italian musicians :)).

During this vacation, my family and I stayed in a city called Massa in the upper part of Tuscany right at the border to Liguria.
In this post I wanted to share 3 of my favourite places we visited during our stay and show you what in particular they have to offer.

Lucca

What makes the city special
1. Lucca is actually the great opera composer Giacomo Puccini’s birthplace. The city even has a Puccini museum including his birth house.
2. There is an enormous city wall, built in the 16th and 17th centuries and remaining in almost perfect condition, encircling the whole of the old town.

My personal highlights
What I especially loved about Lucca was its neat, handsome old town with all the different towers and “piazzas”. There was a small canal system which reminded me a little of that in Milan, and I liked all the cute shops selling leather wear. On one of the squares, there was a band playing music and there were artworks distributed everywhere in the city which gave it a special artistic vibe.

To Do
Climb the tower with the trees on it – this is Lucca’s number one landmark and the view must be insane. Unfortunately, we went to look for the botanical garden instead, which, in the end, we did not even find 😀

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La Spezia

What makes the city special
1. It is one of the biggest cities in the area and from here, you can take a train that goes directly to the towns of Cinque Terre.
2. La Spezia has a huge port area which is perfect for promenading and for people who are interested in ships generally and military ships especially.

My personal highlights
La Spezia does not have as pretty an old town as Lucca for example, but it still is a fascinating place because it is one of its magnitude and its not being a mere tourist residence. The inner city is accessible for pedestrians only and is characterised by large squares, old arcades and wide shopping streets. I loved just strolling through the streets and taking a walk to the port. Also, the antiquity market on Sundays is worth a look.

Dinner Tip
We had dinner at La Tavernetta, which is a really pretty restaurant on Piazza Saint Bon. I can recommend their fish as well as their fried potatoes and their lasagne, which we had as a starter. (They even were so kind as to bring us four plates, although we had only ordered two lasagnes so that we could share.)

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Castello Malaspina di Massa

What makes the place special
1. Castello Malaspina is a medieval fortress with an incredible view over Massa and its surroundings.
2. The fortification was actually used as a prison until as late as 1946. It first appeared in a written record, however, already in the 12th century.

My personal highlights
We went to the castle on foot which was really rewarding since the view was already amazing on the way up. When we arrived, the sun was just beginning to sink down behind the hills, and the light was just breathtaking – my brother and I probably took half of our holiday pictures during this one evening.
I enjoyed the fact that almost all the parts of the construction were accessible: do you know this feeling when you want to explore a castle and there are signs everywhere saying “prohibition of access”? That was not the case at all at Malaspina di Massa. We could walk into every room and climb to the very top of the castle.

Tip
The fort is only open to visitors in the evenings, however, this is the best time to go anyway if you want to capture a stunning sunset. Also, there is a bar where you can order something to drink while you enjoy the view.

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These were three of my favourite places we visited during our holidays in Italy this September. Whereas I had already been to La Spezia once before, Lucca as well as Malaspina were new to me.
What new places did you discover this summer? Let me know in the comments, and also let me know whether you enjoyed reading this post and whether you would like a part 2 🙂

Take care and see you soon

XX

Screenshot at Sep 28 22-50-00

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