Hidden Tuscany: Discovering Art, Culture, and Memories in a Well-Known Region's Unknown Places
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In Hidden Tuscany, acclaimed author John Keahey takes the reader into a part of Tuscany beyond the usual tourist destinations of Chianti, Florence, and Siena. The often overlooked western portion of Tuscany is rich with history, cuisine, and scenery begging to be explored, and Keahey encourages travelers to abandon itineraries and let the grooves in the road and the curves of the coast guide your journey instead.
Follow Keahey as he turns off the autostrada and takes roads barely two lanes wide to discover fishing villages along the Tuscan sea. Then move inland into rolling foothills adorned with cherry orchards, ancient olive groves, and sweeping vineyards that produce wines that challenge Chianti's best. Here it is still possible to follow the paths of Romans, Crusaders, and pilgrims from throughout the western world who were eager to reach Rome.
Hidden Tuscany provides intriguing images of places such as Livorno, a port city with canals; Pietrasanta, Tuscany's Citta d'Arte; and Capraia, an island formed by volcanoes. Keahey engages with the inhabitants of these enchanting landscapes, whether sculptors who toil in marble studios or residents whose own memories and traditions illuminate major moments in world history.
From coastal towns to vineyards farther inland to the Tuscan archipelago, Keahey reminds us that each village, city, and island has its own unique story to tell. For armchair travelers and vacation seekers alike, Hidden Tuscany brings a new side of this classic Italian region to life, and the result is mesmerizing.
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Weeks later, with Filippo Tofani, my friend from Pietrasanta, I walked the mostly uphill trail from Capezzano Monte to Sant’Anna, past the deserted casolare of Moco with its three or four burned-out, abandoned houses, forest vines obscuring them and trees pushing up through the crumbled floors. For good measure during this second walk, after a brief stay in Sant’Anna, we continued downhill toward Valdicastello. Filippo told me he had made the trip as a high school student, uphill, with his history class.
The report got scant attention outside of Europe, but in Tuscany it was overwhelming news. Essentially, no charges would be brought against the eight men out of the original seventeen who were still alive. The evidence, prosecutors said, was “not sufficient. ” They may have been part of the unit that carried out the slaughter but, prosecutors averred, there was nothing in the record that pointed to what they, as individuals and low-ranking soldiers, may have done. Again, there appears to be no justice for the still-living Sant’Anna survivors, now in their late seventies and eighties, or their families.
But folks in and around Calci believe otherwise. Today, the deconsecrated church, declared a national monument and restored in the late 1960s, and one two-story medieval building, which probably was the monastery, are all that are left. It is now an agritourismo, a place for tourists to come, stay, eat local food, and experience Tuscan farm life. The church, with a porch made of local stone, is small and simple with only a belfry and no bell tower. I drove down to it. There were no vehicles present or people walking about.
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