The town of Buggiano is just a few miles from the spa town of Montecatini Terme but is a world away in its green hills and rural lifestyle. Buggiano is, in fact, not just a town but a collection of hamlets in the hills of the Val di Nievole (or Valdinievole), part of the Nievole River Valley. Buggiano and the area was first inhabited by the Liguri people, the Etruscans and then the Romans. These hamlets collectively make up Buggiano, which is a slice of old Tuscany:
- Borgo di Buggiano - the biggest of the villages and where the town hall is located.
- Buggiano Castello - the historic aristocratic castle village with patrician villas, along with the Pretorian Palace that was once a seat of power and still bears the crests of past rulers. There are hidden gardens all around Castello, which gave it the name Borgo degli Agrumi (village of the citrus gardens).
- Colle di Buggiano - a cluster of medieval lanes and homes on the hill ("colle") surrounded by olive groves
- Malocchio - a tiny hamlet of just 11 inhabitants, apparently so-named to keep outsiders from venturing in and settling here. Malocchio means "evil eye". Despite its miniscule size and inhospitable name, the hamlet is home to two very good restaurants.
The town emblem bears an oxen, which refers to an ancient legend about the town's beginnings. When the Roman army occupied the area as part of their campaign against the Liguri tribes, it is said that one legionnaire wanted to retire from service and enjoy a peaceful life in these hills. His commander told him he could have the amount of land that would be covered by the hide of an oxen. The soldier agreed; in the night he took the hide, cut it into tiny strips and outlined the hilltop with them. The commander had to cede the land and the soldier lived out his days on the "colle" (hill). Thus began Colle di Buggiano. The crest has displayed the oxen for many centuries. In the Renaissance era when the Duchy of Tuscany won the territory from Lucca, the Tuscany lily was added; it can be seen on various portals and crests around the villages, though the ancient Porta di San Martino, the western gate into the town, still bears only the symbol of the ox.
The lovely hamlet of Buggiano Castello is definitely worth a visit, to stroll its medieval lanes and soak in the Old World atmosphere it offers. The homeowners throw open their private gardens every year in a sort of "open garden" tour called Campagna within the walls" (the countryside inside the walls). It's a fun chance to see these private spaces and how gardens are cultivated within an ancient village.
Borgo a Buggiano, the main town, has some good restaurants, wine bars, cafes and shops. There are two art museums and several churches, mostly in simple Romanesque style. The views over the surrounding the countryside area beautiful and the location just a few miles from the famed hot springs spas at Montecatini Terme is perfect for relaxing and enjoying some tranquility and some pampering at the same time.
In Buggiano Castello, be sure to visit the Palazzo Pretorio, with its frescoed halls and archives. It is open from 3:00 PM til 7:00 PM.
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Explore nearby towns
One of the oldest villages in the area, Massa e Cozzile is a stone stronghold that dates back to the third century.
The town of Pescia, on the plains between Lucca and Florence,sits on the banks of the Pescia River near Montecatini Terme and Pistoia.
Montecatini Terme lies at the extreme foothills of the Apennines, on the west side of Serravalle Pistoiese (Pistoia), at the centre of the popular Valdinievole.