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Best Scenic Drive From Lucca to Montecatini Terme

We will be in Italy in July 2021 with a little help from the CDC and the WHO. What's the best route to drive from Lucca to Montecatini Terme. Whichever route we take, it's less than an hour's drive. So we want to take the most scenic route. Any suggestions. Also, is the Leonardo Museum in the town of Vinci worth a visit. Gracie mille!

Posted by
1699 posts

I visited the Leonardo Museum in Vinci in 2011 and enjoyed it and the small town! It's a very small museum: we probably spent an hour in it, fascinated with the small models of his machines.

ETA: my photos make me think the museum exhibits are all in Italian; I can read Italian, so we would have spent more time in the museum than someone who cannot read Italian.

I recall that you have to park away from the town and walk in. I don't remember the walk being far or strenuous, though it might be for someone with mobility issues. Along the walk up to the center, where the museum is, we passed (on the left, headed up into town) a fabulous ceramic atelier run by a very pleasant artisan - Antonio Cannatella, from Sicily - with hand-decorated ceramics for sale.

ETA: the ceramic workshop is "Ceramiche Cannatella." Antonia Cannatella had been a ceramist for more than 30 years at the time of our visit.

We drove from Lucca to Vinci. It's a lovely hillside drive with fabulous scenery. I drove much slower than even the narrow hillside roads would suggest because there were LOTS of bicycles in the lanes of traffic. I don't think I kept record of how long it took to get to Vinci, but it was definitely longer than the mileage would suggest.

Posted by
1699 posts

The route I drove from Lucca to Vinci passed through the small hilltop village of Montecarlo (No, not that Montecarlo!) where we had lunch. The town was founded in 1333 and boasts a small castle and bell tower.

You'll see from the map that it means we did not drive on the E76, the most direct route towards Montecatini Terme. Very likely, we drove the SR439 and the SR436, which are lovely, winding and well-paved roads.

ETA: judging from the timestamps on my pictures, it took us more than an hour to drive from Montecarlo to Vinci, especially given the bicycles mentioned above. Fabulous sightseeing, but slow, winding, hillside driving.

I would advise having a very detailed map and a full tank of gas! I had the Michelin 430 for central Italy. An even more detailed map would have been better.

As it was, the signposting on the route we took was limited, nonexistent at some junctions, so we guessed - sometimes incorrectly - and probably veered from SR439 and SR436. So we had to stop for directions, which was only moderately successful - even with my (necessary) Italian - as locals did not know the way to Vinci.

If you view it as an adventure, and have time to drive at a leisurely pace, it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon!

Posted by
150 posts

Lucca - Montecatini - Vinci is a short route. Probably the only scenic path is from Pistoia ti Vinci, a little more winding. BTW: don't forget a stop in Lamporecchio to purchase a bag of "brigidini", the famous cookies.
Italians who like winding routes and scenic ways go north of Pistoia and climb the Appennini passes.
A route could be around Cimone mountain: Lucca - Abetone - Riolunato - Pievepelago - Fanano - Porretta Terme - Pistoia.
Another in the opposite direction: Abetone - Fiumalbo - Sant'Anna Pelago - San Pellegrino in Alpe - Castelnuovo di Garfagnana - Bagni di Lucca.
Except in winter you find a lot of bikers along this passes having fun!

Posted by
1578 posts

hey hey bradley
are you staying in lucca and how many days will you be there? is this a scenic drive day trip and returning back to lucca.
aloha

Posted by
34 posts

Arriving in Pisa from Heathrow around 4 in the afternoon and driving directly to Lucca. I think it's only about a 30 minute drive from the Pisa airport to Lucca. We will be there one night only. The next day we are then driving to Montecatini Terme in the late afternoon in our Fiat Cinquecento and staying there for 4 nights.

Gracie e Cordiali saluti,

Brad Gold

Posted by
1125 posts

The drives from Lucca aren't so scenic as it's in the plain, and it's extremely time consuming to drive into the hills. The town of Montecarlo can be on your way to Montecatini. It's pretty and evocative and though similar to Montecatini Alto, it's less touristy. I recommend a side trip to Pistoia while you're in Montecatini, if you do your homework you'll find some great artworks and monuments and it's the non-touristy* Tuscany that everyone craves - along with a bonus of tripe sandwiches. (*given that nowhere in Tuscany is undiscovered)

Posted by
34 posts

Hello again. I am beginning to think that this trip in July 2021 may actually happen. So, I was reading The Points Guy blog that I get everyday and it had an article called "The 19 Most Beautiful Villages in Italy." One of the villages listed is Collodi, which is on our route from Lucca to Montecatini Terme. Is this an overstatement? A couple of people in the forum mentioned Montecarlo as a great stop. Comments per favore!

Posted by
1578 posts

hey hey brad
collodi is birthplace to pinocchio, with pinocchio park. couple other things to check out are the 17th century villa garzoni with the gorgeous garzoni gardens and butterfly house.
tripsavvy.com/pinocchio-remembered
visittuscany.com/collodi
tastepistoia.com
visittuscany.com/pistoia-paradise
fattoriaaldotto.it local farm and winery in lucca
you're gonna have lots of fun and enjoy
aloha

Posted by
2252 posts

Hi Brad, sounds like you have some great options for your trip that day. Please, do NOT travel from Lucca to Montecatini-Terme like I did a few years ago. I took the 30-minute train from Lucca to Pisa one afternoon. After about 30 minutes and a few brief stops at places I had never heard of, I said to myself, gee shouldn’t I be arriving by now? Finally I located the next stop on a map, only to realize I had taken the train in the wrong direction. So, I jumped off at Montecatini-Terme, crossed the tracks and was very lucky to almost immediately catch a train back in the other direction. I’ve heard that Montecatini-Terme is a lovely place, although my few minutes at the train station were nothing special! Fortunately once I finally got to Pisa, the Tower etc. were lovely in the very late afternoon sunlight!

Posted by
1125 posts

Do more research on Collodi, in my opinion it's not worth the time.