Follow Il Bottaccio
Via Bottaccio, 1 – 54038 Montignoso (MS) Toscana
Featuring ethereal landscapes, postcard-pretty villages and astonishing art everywhere, Italy works wonders whatever the occasion, even more so when you have a romantic escape in mind.
All across the country, you can always find a place, an event or an adventure that will make you feel starry-eyed, dreaming of your loved one. True, we count ourselves lucky, being surrounded by mighty, white-stricken mountains on one side and glorious beaches on the other, and yet we never cease exploring and measuring up against new and exciting escapades. Come with us and you will see what makes this country so loved and cherished, the world over.
Not only Florence, Siena and the Chianti region. Tuscany reveals several layers of its splendour in remote and impossibly pretty hilltop villages, hidden churches displaying well-preserved frescoes or vineyards stretching beyond the horizon. Come to Pietraia, a small hamlet in Casciana Terme, close to Pisa, and you will see The Alley of Love (la via dell’amore): a heart-shaped frame is there so that couples can seal their love with a romantic photo. The entire village oozes charm and sophistication: walk its quaint streets to feel part of a fairy-tale. Or visit splendid Lucca: the whole town is awash with mesmerizing corners, such as delightful Piazza Anfiteatro or the Botanic Gardens, but it’s the Tomb of Ilaria del Carrettoin Lucca Cathedral you’ll want to visit: here you will be moved by the potent representation of love, masterfully achieved by the sculptor Jacopo della Quercia. Commissioned by Ilaria’s husband, Paolo Guinigi, after she had died at the age of twenty-five, this delicate representation is a pure act of love. Piazza del Tribunale in Lucignano, a delightful medieval town between Siena and Arezzo, is where you’ll find the Town Hall Museum (Museo Comunale): here lies a stupendous Gothic masterpiece, the Tree of Love. Decorated with coral, enamel and rock crystals, it allegedly bestows luck and eternal love to couples. Borgo a Mozzano, in the Serchio Valley, close to Lucca, hosts the visionary Ponte della Maddalena, a bridge that has come to symbolise the entire Lucca region. Head here and marvel at its peculiar shape.
Oscar Wilde used to say: “I can resist anything except temptations.” When it comes to chocolate, why should we resist? Its history spanning more than three millennia, the Mayas and Aztecs are known to have drunk a beverage made with cocoa beans and Spain is the first European country to have adopted it into its cuisine.
Chocolate comes in endless varieties and appeals to all tastes: in the month of sweet Valentine, a trip to the Chocolate valley in northern Tuscany seems even more poignant. The area between Pisa, Pistoia and Prato hides an astonishing assembly of first-rate patisseries, master chocolatiers and prestigious chocolate industries. Pontedera is home to a chocolate maker that has won awards overseas, Cascine di Buti sees a fabulous enterprise that offers great chocolate squares, while Monsummano Terme, Agliana and Uzzano see a diverse selection of organic, gourmet and tempting chocolate delights.
Prato, allegedly the home of the real cantucci (Biscotti di Prato), hosts several patisseries that tempt strangers with delicious pralines, cakes and chocolate eggs. Enjoy!
First-time visitors to Tuscany may feel overwhelmed by the vast gamut of artworks, landscapes, villages and gourmet cuisine that seem too good to be true. Among the many delightful places, medieval towns strike a chord with anyone wanting to explore the region’s momentous past and fall in love with it.
Head to Volterra, the city of alabaster that is perched on a hill: visit the stunning Palazzo dei Priori and its fabulous art collection, then be amazed at the views from the terrace. Surely a kiss is in order there… Hilltop Cortona, by Arezzo, is surrounded by Etruscan and Roman walls and offers everything: a fortress, a prestigious museum, a sanctuary and views that stretch as far as romantic Lake Trasimeno. Known as “the gateway to the Middle Ages”, Monteriggioni stuns for its exceptionally preserved outer walls that can be seen from a distance. Step within the town and feel the sense of history: visit the castle and take a peek at the view from the many entrance doors, for it is simply mesmerising.
Though not strictly Medieval, since its creation dates back to the 15th century, UNESCO listed Pienza, in Val d’Orcia, south of Siena, is a monument within itself: the “ideal city” sees many romantic streets such as Via dell’amore, Via del Bacio and Via della Fortuna: Franco Zeffirelli chose the town as the setting for his masterful Romeo and Juliet film: it doesn’t get more romantic than this for sure!
In search of romantic inspiration by the sea? Look no further. From the Cinque Terre to northern Tuscany. opportunities are endless. Start in picturesque Cinque Terre in Liguria and pick a romantic walk such as the Blue Trail, linking all the five villages of Riomaggiore Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. The stretch from Riomaggiore to Manarola, known as the Path of Love, will reopen in 2024, so start planning to come and enjoy superb views of the coast and the sea, perhaps with a fiery sunset that defies belief! In the meantime, visit Framura and walk from the beaches of Torsei to La Vallà: a charming section full of history, touching on the medieval villages. If it’s the romantic Gulf of Poetsyou are after, don’t miss Montemarcello Belvedere: evocative and mesmerising, the view is magnificent, even more so at sunset. Portovenere is perhaps the most romantic place in northern Italy: its rows of pastel coloured houses by the sea lead to a lovely, romantic church atop a short walk: picturesque and evocative, the setting is striking and unforgettable.
Forte dei Marmi, the glitzy retreat on the northern Tuscan coast, offers a 5 km-long walk by the sea that sees the Apuan Alps in the rear background. Visit the fortino, which gives its name to the town, and enjoy the many bars, restaurants and hip shops for a romantic night out.
The warmth of a lovely kitchen is hard to beat: the heart and soul of any home beat there and gathering around this place feels cosy, but also rewarding. Northern Tuscany – and Italy as a whole, for that matter – is renowned for its love affair with food, symbolising love for life as a whole. At Il Bottaccio, talented and creative chef Nino Mosca combines his great skills with inventiveness, epitomising the union of food and art, so varied, eclectic and stunningly displayed at the property. Join us for Valentine’s Day to celebrate a refined, fish-based menu, accompanied by live music and with a special preview: “Immortal Wings”, the exhibition of acclaimed artist Romolo Dal Leo. Open your heart to novel emotions: at Il Bottaccio, the union of love and art will thus be complete.
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