Villas of Marlia
Friday, April 12, 2019
Escaping Lucca is difficult because it is so uniquely wonderful! And yet, Tuscany is so much more… Today, we explored a beautiful area northwest of Lucca. We rented a car – we now really blend in with our Lancia 🚙⛽️ – and took off right away.
First stop: Marlia
The villas in and outside Lucca are part of the Tuscan landscape. These lavishing properties, with excessive luxuries and grandiose gardens, belonged to rich merchants when the silk industry was booming in the 13th century. For the most part, properties were passed on from one generation to the next, either through familial lineage or through marriage.
Camellias are everywhere, and even if we are gearing towards the end of their blooming season, their intricate beauty can still be admired, not to mention the beds of petals they are leaving behind.
At this time of the year, flower beds have not been planted yet, but there is enough to appreciate the overall beauty of these places. As a bonus, there are very few tourists, and you practically have the place to yourself!
We visited Villa Reale, considered one of the most important historic residences in Tuscany. In the 19th century, it was home to Elisa Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister.
We then moved to Villa Torrigiani, where we had a private guided tour of the main floor. Built in the late 16th century, the façade was completely changed in the 18th century, with the addition of marble decorations, statues, and decor inspired by Versailles.
We continued our journey deeper into the mountains, up to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Our stop was short and around 6:00, the little town was already asleep.
Garfagnana is an area crossed in its entirety by the Serchio River, which contributes to the lush green valleys that contrast with the wild surrounding mountains: to the east/northeast, the Apennines and to the west, the Apuan Alps.
Summer is definitely a better time of the year to visit the area (a paradise for hikers), but the treat for me was the drive on narrow winding roads flanked by awesome peaks and villages perched like bird nests. It was going through tunnels, and zooming through countless roundabouts. What a feeling!
Back to Lucca, our own little corner of Tuscany…