Adventures in the Mountains of Tuscany

Where do you go after the hustle and bustle of Rome? Some might say anywhere on a farm in Tuscany. Instead of being directly in the wine region where farms fill up fast we decided to go to Cutigliano, a small town up in the mountains of northern Tuscany. It is a short drive to…

Where do you go after the hustle and bustle of Rome? Some might say anywhere on a farm in Tuscany. Instead of being directly in the wine region where farms fill up fast we decided to go to Cutigliano, a small town up in the mountains of northern Tuscany. It is a short drive to the ski towns in the winter or short drive into the Chianti region to sample some wines. We stayed at a resort called Villa Basilewsky. From the resort, it is a brisk walk of 25 minutes into the city center of Cutigliano.

It was a two hour train ride to Firenze where we then switched to a regional train to reach Pistoia. From Pistoia we bought bus tickets to reach Cutigliano.

On our way via train to Cutigliano
Our view from the bus going to Cutigliano
Our bus meeting a car in the narrow streets

After a scenic winding road that was barely wide enough for our bus and a car to pass, we reached Cutigliano. From the bus stop, we walked down the road and into Villa Basilewsky’s property.

From the moment we walked in, we felt right at home. Family run, the hospitality was amazing from beginning to end. The Villa has been restored, and what a great job they did. Justin and I settled into our room. One of the twenty-five rooms and suites they offer. It was around dinner time. The owner said that since it was going to get dark soon, he would drive us to a restaurant. Since we didn’t have a rental car. There were only three restaurants open, plus a pizzeria, and a cafe in this small little town. There was also two petite grocery stores and a butcher. He took us to IL Nonno Cianco. A real treat to be in a town where fast food chains are not existent, but where families run the establishments. We sat down, and after some translating we ordered a couple of first course items and some wine. After finishing, we were still hungry so we ordered a second course dish to share. Delicious food and wonderful service.

View from our room of the pool complex and the mountains in the background
Playing in the river bed, hope they don’t release the water!

The next morning we had a croissant and tea for breakfast at the resort, and relaxed the rest of the day. The Villa had a nice indoor swimming pool complex, however it was still closed. They were cleaning the pool and adding a spa into the building while we were there. The Villa Basilewsky was very cozy both in the rooms and in the social areas. We could just imagine the hustle and cheery spirit of those who come in the winter time for skiing. Sitting around the bar after a cold day on the mountain. They also have a restaurant, but it was closed because of the off season. I can understand why though. Other than a brief visit from a group of bikers and a couple from Germany. Justin and I were the only ones staying there.

River running right by the Villa Basilewsky and they control the water levels with dams
One of the many water fountains
Shields and Crests on a building in Cutigliano
View from Cutigliano looking south

In the mornings we would have breakfast out on the patio with the sun shining. Following instructions we walked into town whenever we needed to. On the way there was a beautiful chestnut horse, that we would stop to feed some grass to. During our stay we also got to eat at Ristorante L’Osteria and Trattoria “da Fagiolino”. Both were very good and would recommend them highly. All other meals we bought at the grocery store and ate at the resort. Hard to plan, seeing as we had no microwave or kitchen. We did have a refrigerator and that was nice. Our meals consisted of great local cheese, both fresh and aged. Bread, crackers, fruits, and veggies were also on the menu.

Our usual meal of deliciousness!
Most amazing meal we had while in Cutigliano
To finish off our amazing meal, cookies with dessert wine.

One of the ski resorts is Doganaccia 2000, it can be reached by the cableway from Cutigliano. One of the fliers in the resort was about taking the cableway to hiking trails. We said lets do it! We took a bag and packed a lunch and some water. We hiked up through the town to the cable car station. For two people and round trip it was 8 euros. There were lots of mountain bikers either heading down the mountain or going back up.

Our ride up the mountain!
Riding up the cable rail!

We made it to the Doganaccia station and headed to the start of the trail head. A bit confusing though we eventually figured it out and started our ascent. A nice clear day at the bottom. We could see the clouds rolling over the top of the mountain as we hiked further up. Farmers used the area for grazing their herds up in the mountains and the trail went through it. There were no animals out, however the flies thought they should bother us. Very annoying buzzing around our heads while we are trying to hike and enjoy the scenery. Boy, what scenery!

Pretty flowers
Justin hiking up part trail, part stream runoff.
Our little trail and looking to where we are headed
It is cloudy up here!
What a view!

As we got higher and higher we could see the clouds more clearly, and how eerily they were creeping over the mountain top. There was a spot that marked the three ways and it dropped off the other side. It was dizzying trying to look down and see what was down there, but the clouds coming over made it hard to see. Continuing to hike up we passed a couple and also a mom with a sleeping baby. It is really hard to explain all that we saw. It was truly an amazing experience. We made it to Lago Scaffaiolo at 1775 meters and sat down to have lunch. At our lunch spot we could see the other ski lifts in the area. Lots of other hiking trails to explore as well. We passed a lake on the way to Lago that is thought to be glacial origin. We also saw some ancient cippi that once marked the borders of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Grassy fields covered in wildflowers was a great sight as well!

Our lunch spot and thought to be glacial origin lake
Looking down the edge after the cloud had cleared

After lunch we headed back down. It was getting a lot more cloudy than before, so I was itching to get down as fast as possible. Not wanting to take the same trail we did to get up, we grabbed the one heading higher to go across the top and down. It was an experience. We reached a point and if the clouds coming over didn’t creep me out. It was the cross and blank slab table that really did me in. Then as if on cue, the thunder started to boom. At the top it just dropped off Justin said about 8000 feet. I didn’t want to look over, I was just fine thank you. There were no trees or place to take cover under if we did get caught in a storm. That was all I was thinking about. Following the trail we reached a weather station with the caretakers heading down the mountain as well, in a car. Lucky them. It was barely sprinkling at this time, but the clouds were getting darker and darker. Passing more ski lifts and some retired lifts.

That is where we are headed! Up, Up, Up!
Erie table and cross that we ran into when hiking
Walking into ?
Great picture Justin took of the storm coming over the mountain top
Out of commission

Justin and I made it back down to the cable car station just in time for it to start to hail. Big hail too, we stayed in the shelter and waited for the time to take the cable car to go back down. We got in the cable car and as we were descending a nice lightning strike happened. Nothing like riding in a metal car hanging mid air down a mountain. What an exciting, scary, heart pumping time. We made it to the bottom, and luckily it hadn’t started raining yet. We started our walk back to our resort, it rained a little on our way and then poured once we got safe inside our room. A great end to our trip in Cutigliano.

It is hailing!
Eating dinner and drinking tea after our long day hiking.

A great end to our trip in Cutigliano.

Never seen a slug before. He is waiting to catch the bus with us.
Heading down to Pistoia on our way to Venice

Tips for EurRail Pass: Here is the tricky part not noted anywhere in the booklet they send you. It says that some trains need reservations. However, it does not say which ones need reservations. Let me specify, any high speed train in Italy you have to make a seat reservation. The regional trains don’t need a seat reservation. Just make sure to put the date on the travel calender on the day you travel. I did hear that sometimes the regional trains don’t allow the pass, but we never had a problem. On top of the amount of the pass you need to also reserve seats, and they fill up fast. So make sure to stop at the train station a couple days before and get your seats. Another tip is that you don’t have to wait in the long lines to talk to an agent, you can use your Eurrail pass at the ticket kiosk.