Hubby woke up early and took pictures of many beautiful sights of Panzano. One thing I failed to do while in Panzano was waking up early morning lol
It was also hard to say good bye to our lovely airbnb house in Panzano
Because Hubby didn’t get a chance to cycle in Chianti due to his Board Meeting, we were going to Gaiole first before driving to Pisa.
The town of Gaiole in Chianti is another important city within the Chianti Classico region, where the main attractions include the delicious flavours between wine and olive oil. However one could easily say that the real attractions of Gaiole, beyond its Chianti Classico wine, are its surroundings which include beautiful castles and parish churches.
Set to the east of Radda, Gaiole offers glimpse at the complex power struggles that marked this land for 100’s of years, from the Ricasoli family to the Medici family, from the Guelfs to the Ghibilines and between Florence and Siena. These very conflicts were the stimulus for the fortified towns, towering castles and continuous devastation that marks so many destroyed towers and villas.
But from all this chaos, the tradition of Chianti Classico wine was born! Gaiole vants the largest winery in the Chianti Classico area: Brolio Castle, where Baron Bettino Ricasoli invented the Chianti formula in 1872. Great wines that vary with the soil, sun and rain. Visit the many vineyards in Chianti, tasting your way through the stunning antique wine cellars and exquisite aromas of a wine which strictly follows the dictates of Chianti Classico and the San Giovesse grape.
Gaiole is also home to annual event of L’Eroica cycling tour. Chianti peaceful countryside roads with very little traffic and its rolling hills have attracted many cyclist all around the world.
While Hubby went shopping in L’Eroica Store, kids and I had breakfast in Gaiole town square
Pisa and its uniquely beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli (square of Miracle), a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987, have always been a fundamental stop on any holiday in Tuscany. Millions of people come here from every corner of the world every year to try, with the help of perspective, to keep the leaning tower standing.
Pisa boasts a thousand-year history (the name of the city dates back to the Etruscan era and refers to the nearby “mouth” of the Arno) which reached its peak at the time of the Maritime Republics, a period that created the center of the city as an artistic treasure trove with outstanding Romanesque and Gothic churches.
The Leaning Tower has made Pisa famous all over the world, and in addition to the tower, the city actually offers many other interesting things to see worth at least an entire day.
Pisa is two hour driving from Gaiole and the view along the way is also scenic. As we entered Pisa toward the leaning tower, we had to be careful because it was a ZTL area. We parked in the street with metered parking, not far from the tower just before ZTL zone. More info on where to park in Pisa here.
When we approach closer to the tower, I realized that looking at people making all kind of funny poses with the tower was already an attraction by itself.
From Pisa we drove thru to La Spezia to return the car to Hertz office and continue by train to Manarola. Hertz office was already closed when we reached La Spezia, so we parked in front of their office and drop the car key in the box.
La Spezia is located right on the border between Liguria and Tuscany not far from Cinque Terre, Pisa and Florence. It is the ideal starting-point for those who want to make day trips by train to Cinque Terre. There are trains running frequently from La Spezia all year round to the Cinque Terre villages and with train it takes just a few minutes.
Here the Train timetable La Spezia – Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre five villages can also be reached with excursion boat leaving from the harbor of La Spezia.
I made a mistake when looking at Google map. I thought train station was within walking distance from Hertz office but apparently it was a bus station which I mistakenly thought as a train station. Taxi was nowhere to be seen and my Taxi apps didn’t work in La Spezia. But there was a bus stop nearby which go to the train station. So I strolled the street to find a Tobbaco store which sells bus ticket and luckily found them.
Train from La Spezia to Manarola was only 11 minutes away with 1 stop in Riomaggiore and left every 15-30 minutes until 8 pm. We couldn’t find a monitor to see our train’s platform and the tourist information office had a long queue. I have installed Trenitalia apps in my mobile phone and it came in handy as I could see from the apps which platform would our train be coming.
We boarded our train, which is not full so everyone got a seat and we were all excited that we would reach Manarola soon.