Updated Friday, March 15th. Welcome!

Our vision: gather close friends and celebrate Pietro’s 50th in his home town area of Tuscany. For the Americans, The Etruscan Coast and Val di Cecina are relatively unexplored regions, filled with beaches, hikes, woods, and many medieval towns awarded the prestigious Orange Flag by the Touring Club. For the Italians, it’s a chance to meet Pietro’s American friends. But above all, this is your vacation. Here’s how we think it might work.

We have some suggestions for day trips — we think these slow travel experiences will surface something unique that highlights the best of the region. You’re under no obligation to attend any of them, except for one: Pietro’s 50th birthday party, at Bar Betti, with all of us, his Italian friends, and his parents who will come by, too.

The Agenda

Day Evening
Friday Arrive at Villa Ricrio, relax Aperitivo and dinner in Casale Marittimo
Saturday Volterra The Birthday Party 🎉
Sunday Afternoon Querceto Hike Dinner across the street at Locanda Le Giunche; or apericena at a local bar
Monday Lucca + Wine Tasting; San Giuliano Terme Dinner in Pisa (“see the tower at night!")
Tuesday Bolgheri wine tasting and lunch Home-cook dinner at the Villa; invite Pietro’s parents
Wednesday Free day Seafood Dinner in Cecina
Thursday The Day Trip: San Gimignano Final supper at a nice place nearby
Friday Check out

Places, Events, and Day Trips

The Italian lifestyle is never in a rush. After a leisurely morning, coffee, and stroll, imagine a late morning trip. Most would involve lunch out. But we want plenty of time to enjoy the Villa, take naps, relax, pet kitties, explore, and generally chill.

The Villa Ricrio

10 km from the sea, sited on a country farm estate of 650 hectares, the Villa Ricrio will be our home base. The property has olive trees, pheasants, wild boars and foxes. Every bedroom has an en-suite bath; there’s a massive kitchen, private chapel, sitting rooms, dining room and fireplaces, hiking trails through the estate with fitness equipment, and a lovely pool (that won’t be open yet.)

Map: Google Map

Web: https://www.villaricrio.com

Address: Via della Camminata, 2, 56040 Guardistallo PI, Italy

The Birthday Party

Bar Betti, Pietro’s home town bar and enoteca, is hosting The Birthday Party. Bar Betti is a wine buyer’s destination, spot for morning cappuccino, afternoon spritz, and evening drinks. Dinner will be catered, there will be music, and we’ll have transit options to and from The Villa so no one has to drive. We’re expecting around 70 people.

When: Saturday, March 16th, 8pm. Maybe, we get sunset cocktails in Casale beforehand? Or at the Villa?

Map: Caffé Enoteca Betti

Casale Marittimo

Casale Marittimo will be “our town” for groceries, cafes, bars and hanging out. It’s a charming village, 6 minutes away by car or 4.5k away by country walk. There are a few bars and restaurants, a bakery, great views to the sea, and cute shops. This will be your favorite sunset spot!

Map: Google Map

Web: Visit Tuscany


A walled medieval mountain top town with ruins from Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval periods. A filming location for the Medici series, Volterra’s narrow streets are full of shops for local cheeses (especially Pecorino), street food, truffle tasting, churches with medieval art, alabaster shops, and ruins.

Map: Google Map

Links: Visit Tuscany, Lonely Planet

Querceto Hike

An easy hike on wooded forestry roads leads to Querceto, a tiny medieval village and castle that’s part of Marchese Ginori’s country estate. It’s possible to book a Wine Tasting and Tour. There is a chance we can get a slow-food guided hike through the estate lands (the restaurant isn’t open so no guided hike).

Map: Google Map

Locanda Le Giunche

Across the street from The Villa is Le Giunche, a locanda with a restaurant, aperitifs, and a shop.

Location: Google Map

Menu: online link

Online: https://locandalegiunche.it

Lucca Wine Tasting

Lucca’s incredible walls provide the perfect biking paths or walk to view the town, which features one of the best medieval plans and tons of churches. We recently met someone who owns a winery close by, and are working to arrange a visit and wine tasting. We weren’t able to connect with the vineyard owner, but that’s fine as a day at Lucca, the Terme, and Pisa is already alot!

Web: Visit Tuscany; spooky walking tour

San Giuliano Terme

This spa town in the outskirts of Pisa is known for its thermal baths, which date back to Roman times. The Terme di San Giuliano was once the Grad Duke of Tuscany Franceso Stefano of Lorena’s summer residence, and has welcomed kings, princes, and Mary Shelley, who (legend has it) conceived of Frankenstein here. It’s an old-school spa and resort where you can enjoy treatments, thermal waters, pools and more. Pack your swimsuit!

Web: Visit Tuscany, Bagni di Pisa

Bolgheri and “Super-Reds” wine tasting

Discover the Tuscan “Super-Reds” — world-famous wines from Bolgheri. This village has enotecas featuring Sassicaia, the celebrated wine and brainchild of Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who planted Cabernet Sauvignon at his Tenuta San Guido estate in 1944, and Ornellaia, a mix of CabSauv, 15% Merlot and 5% Cab Franc, aged in barriques. Bolgheri is famous for it’s cypress-lined avenue. We will have lunch at Osteria Magona, famous for its Bistecca alla Fiorentina. This would be amongst the best places to try this iconic beef dish. We have arranged a wine tasting through a friend-of-a-friend.

Map: Google Map

Web: Wine Enthusiast, Osteria Magona


Cecina is “the big town” on the coast. Big grocery stores, beaches and pine forests, and the main train line are all here, about 15 minutes by car from The Villa. Along the beach walkway are many seafront restaurants featuring top notch local fish dishes.

Map: Google Map

The Day Trip

We’ve settled on Go Small at… San Gimignano: famous hill town, encircled by 13th century walls and filled with medieval towers. There are other small towns in the area too, like Monteriggioni.

Side trip ideas

Looking for something else, or a date-night getaway? There are many unique suggestions we have:

  • The town of Saline di Volterra is famous for its salt factory, of interest to photographers and architects
  • A small, local hot spring spa buried in the woods features top quality food and relaxing, indoors and out
  • The small medieval villages of Castagneto Carducci, Montecastelli Pisano, and Montecatini
  • A 3k hike through the woods to the ruined monastery of Abbazia di S. Pietro in Palazzolo
  • Renting an e-bike and exploring the back roads, or the trails



We’ll be covering the Villa and The Birthday Party.

The Weather

With luck, should be in the 60s and sunny.

What to Wear

For thermal baths and spas, bring a bathing suit. Note that indoor pools in Italy require a cuffia, a swim cap, which you can usually buy on location. Nothing formal is required — collared polo shirts are fine for dinners. I’ll bring running shoes for workouts and day trips and hiking.


Please download WhatsApp for group chats, picture sharing, and the like. It’s the default messaging app in Europe, and works well across Androids and iPhones. Nick will invite you to a group, “Pietro’s Birthday Week.”

Google Map

We have a Google Map List of all these places and other areas of interest.


Ready to get in the spirit? Try my playlists:

Planning is done, let’s party!

  1. The Google Sheet let us know your arrival airport, flight, and car rental info, so we can help coordinate pickups where needed
  2. WhatsApp for chat and memes
  3. For iPhone users, Nick will setup a shared album