Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Honeymoon Hideaways: Tuscany

Lesser-Known Love in Tuscany

Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its wealth of vineyards and of course, its culinary scene. The area has been attracting honeymooners for decades. But, instead of heading to the well-known (and tourist-heavy) Siena or Florence, try the lesser-known (and less crowded) province of Lucca. This area northwest of Florence gives couples a real, authentic taste of Tuscany, which is why it’s one of the country’s best kept secrets.

In Barga, a historic medieval town, sits the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa. Located atop an expansive hilltop overlooking the mountainous Serchio Valley, the property is nestled between the Apuan Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. The hotel is home to many destination weddings, as well as honeymoon getaways. Rooms have outdoor balconies that overlook the countryside. The property also boasts an award-winning spa, where couples can indulge in a variety of luxurious treatments including the Herbal Pindas Massage, which contains Tuscan herbs soaked in warm oils.

In addition to the spa, another highlight of the property are the private cooking classes couples can take with the chef. Start in the local market where the chef will show you the best way to buy the freshest cheeses, vegetables and meats – all made locally. You’ll meet shopkeepers and make small talk with various vendors in order to find the perfect ingredients. Then, head back to the hotel’s kitchen where the chef will give personalized instruction; you’ll be side-by-side in the kitchen stirring sauces, hand-making pastas and cutting fresh vegetables. Lastly, enjoy the fruits of your labor as you sit down to a romantic, three-course meal with local wine.

Spend the days relaxing, hiking through the property’s massive grounds or exploring the town of Lucca, a beautiful medieval spot chock-full of piazzas (Italian squares), churches and tasty gelato shops. Rent a bike and explore this walled city, cycling along the top of the fortress wall and be sure to stop for a meal – a good spot is the Gli Orti di Via Elisa restaurant. 

Other highlights of this region include visiting the Grotta del Vento (the “Wind Cave”), which is considered to be one of the most unique caves in Europe and exploring castles, fortresses and historic sites in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and Barga, many dating back to the 18th century.

Exploring this under-the-radar part of Tuscany means you’ll see many of these sights and attractions without the crowds and the restaurants won’t be packed. It’s an authentic part of Italy well worth a visit – especially on a romantic honeymoon.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall/Winter 2019 issue. You can order a copy here. 

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