10 small towns to visit around Pisa
The province of Pisa is quite large and full of interesting places to visit. Today I want to propose a first list of 10 hamlets and I promise that I will add others sooner or later. The list cannot be exhaustive, but it can provide a good indication of what is to be expected by wandering through the Pisan hills, the Valdarno Inferiore and the Val di Cecina.
Let’s now proceed with the list, in rigorous alphabetical order, of what to see near Pisa:
- Casale Marittimo
- Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina
- San Miniato
Sorrounded by the beautiful panorama of the Val Graziosa, the village of Calci is located a few kilometers from Pisa. The main thing to see here is undoubtedly the wonderful Certosa di Calci, a monumental monastery among the largest and most important in all of Tuscany. A striking example of Baroque architecture, today this Charterhouse also houses the Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa. Also in Calci, I advise you not to miss the pieve dei Santi Giovanni ed Ermolao, a beautiful Romanesque church built between the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Casale Marittimo is a typical Tuscan hilltop village with the bonus of the sea view: on the clearest days you can see the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago! In this hamlet with a clear medieval imprint, there are the Chiesa di Sant’Andrea, the Palazzo della Canonica and the cappella della Madonna delle Grazie. Nearby there are also several archaeological sites from the Etruscan era such as the Necropolis of Casa Nocera where tombs dating back to the seventh century BC were found.
Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina
Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina is located in the southernmost area of the province of Pisa, on the road that connects Massa Marittima and Volterra. The historic center of Castelnuovo develops along the side and on the top of a high hill from which it dominates the surrounding area. Once it was an important outpost of the Republic of Pisa on the borders with the territories of Siena; today Castelnuovo is appreciated for the excellent combination of natural attractions and places of historical interest.
Probably founded in the Lombard era, the small town of Guardistallo is located in the hinterland a few kilometers from the sea. Among the most interesting things to see here are the Chiesa dei Santi Lorenzo e Agata, the Teatro Marchionneschi and the Castle of which only a few traces remain.
Like many other villages in the province of Pisa, Lajatico also has Etruscan-Roman origins even though the center developed mainly in the Middle Ages. Today Lajatico is famous above all for the so-called Teatro del Silenzio, an amphitheater built in 2006 according to the idea of the great singer Andrea Bocelli (originally from Lajatico). When there are no shows scheduled, the stage is dismantled and the theater turns into an artificial lake. The Teatro del Silenzio is a very suggestive place and every year it is enriched with a new scenography created by international artists as the polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj who created one of his famous sculptures for the theater (a great human face).
Lari is a village of Etruscan origin located in the middle of the province of Pisa halfway between the capital and the city of Volterra. This pleasant hilltop village has its main point of interest in the Castello dei Vicari. Built starting from the 12th century on the ruins of a pre-existing Lombard castle, the castle has undergone several changes over the centuries which have profoundly changed its appearance and today houses an interesting archaeological museum. Also worth visiting is the Propositura di San Leonardo e di Santa Maria Assunta where a beautiful Madonna and Child by Giovanni della Robbia is kept.
Ancient fortified village of the Val di Cecina, Montescudaio is considered one of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy. The village is an important center for wine production and is also City of Bread and City of Olive Oil … in short, a real paradise for the palate! Among the main attractions of the town are the oratory and the church of Santa Maria Assunta.
Historic stop on the Via Francigena in Tuscany, San Miniato is one of the most interesting villages in the whole province of Pisa. The town is really rich in monuments and museums: the main points of interest are the Rocca di Federico II, the Duomo with the mighty Torre di Matilder and the attached Museo Diocesano and the beautiful Santuario del Crocifisso. San Miniato is also famous for the white truffle; every year the Mostra Mercato Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco is held here: if you want to taste and buy this delicacy, that is the best time.
Vicopisano is a pretty medieval village located on the slopes of the Pisan Mountains, about twenty kilometers from Pisa. Walking through its streets, you can admire several monuments of great interest such as the Palazzo Pretorio and the Pieve di Santa Maria but what most characterizes the village are the military-style architectures. Vicopisano in fact still has several towers and a fortress, the Rocca di Vicopisano, where also the famous architect Brunelleschi worked (yes, the guy who made the dome of the Florence Cathedral!).
Volterra certainly needs no introduction: this is one of the most beautiful and rich in history hamlets in all of Tuscany. Ancient and powerful Etruscan city, Volterra has accumulated over the centuries an extraordinary cultural heritage that has nothing to envy to that of the main towns. Do not miss the Roman theater and the archaeological area, the central Piazza dei Priori, overlooked by various historic buildings and the Cathedral with the Baptistery.