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Balloons in Tuscany
Fiona Fisher CBA QAI 

our home in tuscanyBalloons in Tuscany balloon academy is situated in the centre of the small village of Poggio in the beautiful valley of Garfagnana near Lucca. The academy is in a restored eighteenth century farmhouse which was one of the earliest houses in the village and still has some of the original characteristics you would expect from a farm building of that period. Sympathetically restored but with all the modern amenities you need for a comfortable stay. It has stunning views from each side, especially from the main terrace which looks over the snow capped mountains and down the valley to the lake of Ponti Cosi. The village has a population of around four hundred people, a shop / bar, hairdresser and a train station. Poggio is nestled on a hilltop (536 mtrs) in the centre of the Garfagnana area which takes in the northern part of Tuscany, at the border with Emilia Romagna and between the Apuan Alps and the Tuscan - Emilian Appennines.


The Garfagnana valley is of outstanding scenic beauty, with high mountains on both sides. With vast chestnut forests, several national parks, caves and forts, it is sometimes referred to as little Switzerland. For the visitor who likes the outdoor life there is an abundance of activities to choose from. Trekking, cycling, and exploring the lovely villages by car or on foot. The four national parks will keep anyone occupied for days. The Argegna park, the Orecchiella park, the nature reserve of Arrido di Botri and the nature park of the Apuan Alps.

A few minutes by car bus or train from Poggio is Castelnouvo di Garfagnana the main town in the centre of the region. A vibrant shopping town which hosts one of the bigger markets in the area every Thursday morning. Throughout the year there are a lot of other carnivals, fairs and specialised markets which celebrate the gastronomic history of the region.
The traditional cuisine of the area is healthy, simple and a delight to the pallet. Wild berries and herbs, chestnuts, faro, porcini mushrooms, cheeses, nuts and vegetables are all locally grown produce. Slow food is dear the hearts of the people of the region so whatever the season there is always something tasty and 100% natural to feast upon, washed down of course by one of the many local wines.  

To get to Garfagnana from UK or Ireland you can fly to Pisa airport with several airlines from various locations and get a train from the airport to Pisa Centrale (about ten minutes) and then direct to Castelnuovo and Poggio (one and a half to two hours). By train or bus you can travel from Pisa to Lucca and then on to Castelnuovo. On the map, Lucca and Castelnuovo are north of Pisa. By car the journey time from Pisa to Castelnuovo is around one and a half hours. Florence, Siena, Chianti and all the other main tourist attractions of Tuscany are only a few hours drive from Poggio and can also be visited by train or bus. The beautiful walled city of Lucca is forty five minutes by car or train and there are spectacular scenic mountain drives to many other attractions like Forti di Marmi and Montacatini terme.

For more information on Garfagnana you can visit some of the following web-sites.

viaduct at Poggio