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Crespina
Crespina Lorenzana
Discovering a part of the Pisan countryside, from villas to vineyards

The hills of Crespina and Lorenzana enjoy some superb climatic conditions. In a landscape lined with innumerable watercourses, vineyards produce a thoroughly pleasant wine; their activity is matched only by a thriving local horticulture scene.

 

Thanks to the beauty of its environs, the village of Crespina has been beautified still further by the presence of great aristocratic villas, which first started to be built here in the late 1700s. Others joined them in the nineteenth century, their fame enhanced by visiting artists like Giovanni Battista Tempesti, Silvestro Lega and Giovanni Fattori, all exponents of the Macchiaioli movement.

 

Of all the most important villas here, perhaps the crème de la crème would be Villa Belvedere, which commands a panoramic position just above its English garden and lemon-grove. Also worth mentioning are Villa Corsini Valdisonzi, Villa Il Poggio and the Carlo Pepi museum-villa, which belonged to the famous art critic who gave it its name. This latter villa is open to the public, who can enjoy its rich collection of contemporary art.

 

One curious but centuries-old tradition of the village is owl-raising: owls were customarily bred here to hunt larks. The owl has always been a symbol of local folklore, and the village celebrates it with a festival in September.

 

The old medieval castle complex of Lorenzana, meanwhile, has over the centuries grown into a little village, one that preserves a typical rural Tuscan aspect. Its position offers a view of the Livornese hills in profile. The main local points of interest include the church of San Bartolomeo and San Cristoforo, and next to that the old Palazzo dei Lorenzi, which housed Florentine delegates during the period when Lorenzana was governed by Florence.

 

Venturing a little way out of this Pisan hilltown, you will find the beautiful farmhouse-villa of the Conti Giuli and the Villa Sforni, with an annexed church in the Romanesque style. Colle Alberti and Vicchio are two ancient hamlets on the hillslopes, both of which are worth a visit for the gentle landscapes that surround them.

A journey through the Pisan countryside might continue with a visit to Casciana Terme Lari, a little village among the hills and old farmsteads. The village is famed for its celebrated hot springs, whose therapeutic waters burst forth at a temperature of 35.7%

 

The elegant city of Pontedera lies near the point at which the Arno meets the river Era. Traces of ancient settlements have been found around the town, ranging from the neolithic period to the Middle Ages. More recently, Pontedera achieved fame by becoming an international Made in Italy symbol. It was here that the Vespa was born, an icon of the Italian dolce vita in Hollywood films even today.

 

It's worth stopping in the hilltown of Santa Maria a Monte, especially in August, when the locals celebrate their traditional festival of the fried potato. The event features special menus, starring endless different recipes using local potatoes.

Every year, on 29 September, Crespiina puts on the storied and historic Festival of Owls and Call Birds, a tradition that has its roots in the Middle Ages and which attracts enthusiasts even today. The event is dedicated to the art of training owls for hunting, so it is a given that you will see expert owlers showing off their skills, or rather, the skills of their birds.

The culinary customs of Crespina Lorenzana reflect those of the Pisan countryside n general. Great charcuterie and local cheeses are never lacking from the table, adding a distinct flavour to the typical Tuscan antipasto. Pappardelle in wild boar sauce and slow-roasted pork will always feature on the menus of the osterias and trattorias. Everything is washed down with some Chianti DOCG, a Sangiovese-based symbol of Italian produce, and Bianco Pisano San Torpè DOC, a white with delicate notes and lively aromas.

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