At the foot of Monti Pisani near the famous city of Pisa is the small town of Calci. It is cradled in a natural amphitheater-shaped valley known as the Val Grazioso (gracious valley, which reflects its beauty). It is surrounded by hills that are covered in olive groves. Higher up are pine woods and forests of chestnuts. From the heights of Mt. Serra, you can take in views that stretch to Pisa and the Tuscan archipelago beyond. The panoramas are breathtaking, and Calci enjoys a pretty natural setting.
Calci is most noted for its Certosa di Pisa (the Charterhouse of Pisa), a monastic complex that was built in the 1300s by an order of Carthusian monks. It was renovated in the 1700s in Baroque style, making it look like a Tuscan villa. The complex contains a main building along with other outlying structures, and held a library, an archives and a pharmacy. The monks lived in semi-seclusion, with a monastic life that balanced solitary time with community activities and prayers. The Certosa di Calci now is home to the splendid Natural History Museum, which is administered by the University of Pisa and has displays on paleontology, minerals, zoology, and marine mammals. It has one of Europe's largest displays on dinosaurs.
The Romanesque Pieve di San Giovanni ed Ermolao is a monumental church with incredible carvings and stone work, and an ancient accompanying bell tower. The old town of Calci is cute and compact, with little piazzas, narrow lanes and nice views.
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