Live life in Lunigiana
This beautiful area of Northern Tuscany is bordered by the stunning Apennine mountains to the East and the picturesque Ligurian coastline to the West. There are three airports within around an hour’s drive at Pisa, Genoa and Parma - all with low-cost flights from the UK.
Lunigiana is special and has been likened to a magic kingdom. It is not only the breathtaking scenery with its abundance of medieval castles and hill villages, but the huge sense of wellbeing which radiates from the sunshine, tranquility, delicious food and wine, kind, friendly locals and most importantly, from the sense of tradition and community amongst people here that is rarely seen in modern day life.
Where can you go these days and still leave your car unlocked overnight and your front door open with no fear of crime? In Lunigiana this still holds true. The children are free to run and play in the beautiful safe villages, watched over by elderly villagers chatting, as youngsters did generations ago.
In summer there are lazy days on the beach, sailing, walks in the hills, climbing, refreshing swims in the crystal clear river pools and evening festivals and concerts under the stars; in the winter, there are trips to Florence, Pisa, Parma, Lucca and Genoa (its fabulous new marina complex boasts the largest aquarium in Europe) as well as skiing and snowboarding - with a choice of three nearby ski resorts.
Every week-end from May to September the hill villages offer a choice of ‘festas’, or festivals, with food and dancing. Some are deliciously simple: a plate of ravioli or vegetable pie made by local women, a glass of robust red wine sitting at a long table with the rest of the villagers and perhaps some dancing in the square under the fairy lights. Others are much grander: Fivizzano hosts a medieval festival where the locals, dressed in costume, compete in bow and arrow competitions and traditional flag throwing displays. At Filetto, the whole village steps back in time; the castle is opened up and the cooking offered is from ancient recipes, the narrow cobbled lanes are lit by torchlight and the ‘knights’ wander the village on horseback. There are street entertainers, theatre, dance and music.
Eating out is a treat in Lunigiana and an affordable one. As this is still a fairly undiscovered part of Tuscany there are no tourist menus or tourist prices. The restaurants are filled with locals and children are made very welcome. A family of four can eat out extremely well with wine and coffee for around 40-60 euros. A coffee at the bar is around 1 euro and a beer around 2 euros. Although there are supermarkets in the nearby towns, groceries can be bought from the variety of good village shops which sell local seasonal produce and it's a great way to feel part of the community and pass the time of day. Most Lunigiana villages are also served by the 'travelling shops' including the bread van which delivers hot focaccia and bread every morning.
There are now a variety of energy efficient solutions for homes in Italy. Its climate is perfect for efficient solar panels greatly reducing energy costs, and wood for fireplaces is cost-effective and plentiful from the surrounding sustainable forests. There is generally land available too if required, and with the Mediterranean climate you can grow a mouth-watering selection of organic fruit, vegetables, herbs, vines and olives (pressed at the village press for homemade olive oil).
Annual running costs for those with holiday homes consist of IMU tax (equivalent of council tax) and utilities.
Whether it's a lifestyle change, a place to retire or a holiday home this dream can become a reality in Lunigiana. With its proximity to the cultural centres of Tuscany, the coast and nearby ski resorts there is also a healthy demand for holiday lets for owners seeking rental income. To view a current portfolio of holiday rental properties in Lunigiana visit www.toscanarustica.eu.
More people are now making Lunigiana their permanent home attracted by the free and excellent italian schools combined with the high quality of life and low cost of living. Flexible work practices allow them to choose where to live and improve their work/life balance. So with frequent low-cost flights out of three nearby airports and a wireless broadband service across Lunigiana, the sunny relaxed Tuscan lifestyle can now be yours.