Let’s be honest, it can happen, we get those late March and April showers!
The good news is that it rarely rains all day long in Tuscany. There will always be moments of blue skies and pretty spring flowers.
Visiting at this time of year shouldn’t stop you from enjoying all that Tuscany has to offer. We believe it’s the perfect time to sightsee before the summer heat sets in.
As most of our properties are located in and around the Province of Pisa we have decided to give you some insight into what you can do and see closer to your base.
1. For Vespa and vintage lovers
Let’s start with The Vespa Museum in Pontedera. A perfect spot for kids, dads and those who love all things vintage! Ladies believe me – you will enjoy it too!
I must admit when I first heard of the Vespa Museum, I had no interest whatsoever in seeing a bunch of scooters! I finally went along all in the name of research and I must say, I enjoyed every minute and stayed much longer than intended and I would definitely go back again!
This small museum is dedicated to the history of the Vespa and is situated in what was once the company tool shop. The Vespa scooters on display are some of the most beautiful and rarest of their kind.
All the displays are labelled in English as well as Italian and there is a small bookshop with some cool Vespa memorabilia.
Entrance to the museum is free!
2. A journey through history with Dinosaurs and Monks!
If I told you you were going to visit one of the oldest museums in the world, what would you expect to see? The Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa dates back to the late 16th Century and has its origins in the gallery attached to the botanical gardens which were founded by Ferdinando I dei Medici.
Be prepared to be amazed and surprised by this incredible historical building which lies at the end of a lane close to the small town of Calci. A glimpse through the cypress trees will reveal what lies ahead as you witness a magnificent Baroque building which houses both the Natural History Museum and the Carthusian Monastery of Pisa.
It is where these two buildings merge that your rainy day in Tuscany will be filled with both beauty and awe. History buffs and art lovers will love the Carthusian Monastery and kids will delight in seeking out dinosaurs, amphibians and reptiles.
The Natural History Museum has both permanent and temporary exhibitions ranging from the origins of man through to mineral, cetaceans, dinosaur and predator galleries. There is also a fascinating exhibition of the evolution of the territory of the Monte Pisano recreating 500 million years of travel and some mind boggling facts.
For beautiful architecture and art, a visit to the Carthusian Monastery is a must. Pass through the enormous wrought iron gates into what looks like a fairytale castle. It’s hard to imagine this was once a place of meditation and contemplation.
Founded by a group of Carthusian monks in 1366, here you can witness how the monks lived their humble lives in complete austerity in their tiny little cells. Wander through the cloisters and marvel at the beauty and splendour of this monumental building with sumptuous frescoes and architecture.
Note: Visits to the Monastery are allocated at certain times with a guide. All tours are in Italian but as the Monastery is so visual you can get away without an English speaking guide. However, an interpreter can be organised through us at Authentic Tuscany.
|Natural History Museum
Guided visits in the Monastery at the following times:
|Sunday & national holidays
3. A Visit to Pisa’s art galleries and museums
Believe it or not, Pisa has much more to offer beyond the Leaning Tower. Here you will find a wealth of museums and galleries to keep everyone happy. I’ve mentioned some of our favourites in some detail in this blog. For more information you can visit the official tourism website for Pisa
The Palazzo Blu art gallery
Situated along the banks of the River Arno in the centre of the City is a restored ancient noble palace which now houses both temporary and permanent exhibitions.
The journey of Marco Polo
Next Exhibition March 24- July 1
An exhibition by National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita. Is a combination of photos, videos and stories of the epic journey from Venice to the Far East along The Silk Route.
Le Navi Antiche di Pisa– The Roman shipwrecks of Pisa
In 1998 just outside the ancient walls of Pisa and within a stone’s throw of the famous Leaning Tower, excavation work was started by the railway company in order to improve the railway lines. Almost immediately the excavation workers came across some large wooden objects. From that moment on the excavation works became an archaeological investigation which uncovered 30 Roman ships and their cargo. The archaeological investigation took 16 years to complete from 1998 to 2016.
This is an incredibly fascinating site which offers an insight into the powerful Maritime Republic of Pisa and how close the lagoons came up to the city.
A visit to the site is strictly by appointment and limited to just a couple of days a week. You can book your place through their website which seems to be only in Italian at the time of writing but any guest of Authentic Tuscany looking for help to navigate the site can contact us for help.
Note: Each visit is limited to 1 hour 30 minutes and is free of charge. Guided visits cost €12 for adults, €5 for 6-14 year olds, under 6 years free.
The National Museums of Pisa
Pisa has two magnificent museums, both located along the banks of the River Arno. The first, the National Museum of San Matteo holds the largest collection of artworks in Pisa, including a remarkable collection of Medieval pottery and ceramics, a range of paintings together with wooden sculptures (from the 12th–14th Centuries) and including 16th Century masterpiece sculptures by Nicola Pisano e Donatello.
The second of Pisa’s national museums is the Palazzo Royale. Which was built as a winter residence so that the Medici family could escape the harsh winters of Florence. The palace has consequently been used by the subsequent rulers of Tuscany including Italy’s deposed Royal family.
What made this museum special to us is that we were accompanied throughout our visit by an expert guide who explained the works of art and the history which ranged from a collection of antique armour from the Gioco del Ponte, (the bridge game) a unique event exclusive to Pisa dating from the Middle Ages which is re-enacted every year in June across the Ponte di Mezzo (the halfway bridge).
There is also a collection of fine tapestries and a rare crimson dress once owned by the Grand Duchess Eleonora di Toledo which was made in the 1550s.
4. Family fun at the Aquarium
Less than an hour from most of our properties is the Port City of Livorno famous for seafood lunches, it’s grand central covered market, Venetian quarter and its Aquarium. This is your chance to get up close and personal to marine life from the Mediterranean and further afield, including corals, seahorses, turtles, blacktip reef sharks, zebra sharks and more!
Note: Entrance times vary throughout the year and can be seen on their English version website. Entrance fees €14 adults, €12 over 65’s, €8 for children over 140cm in height, free for children up to 1 metre in height.
5. Pasta Workshops
The perfect morning activity for all the family is learning how to make fresh pasta just like an Italian mamma! Even if you are not renowned for your cooking skills this fun informative lesson offers the perfect solution for a rainy day in Tuscany. Plus you get to sit down as a family or group and eat your pasta lunch together.
6. Cooking classes for foodies
If you are looking to impress your family and friends with an Italian dinner spend a few hours in the kitchen with our Italian chef. Learn everything from how to pronounce Italian dishes, how to make fresh pasta, right down to making the perfect dessert!
7. Wine and gastronomic tours
If you love Tuscan food and wine but it’s raining outside and if cooking is not your thing. Then a wine or foodies tour is the perfect option for a rainy day. Enjoy tasting delicious wines of the region accompanied by cured hams, artisan bread and award winning extra virgin olive oil.
We are able to help organise all the above gastronomic and wine experiences. Visit our website for more information.