Shopping and Dining: The closest village of Chianni, a 10 minute drive away, has a café, bakery, butcher (known for their take-away prepared roasts), pharmacy and a mini-market for basic groceries, open Sunday morning. Between Chianni and the next closest village of Lajatico, 15 minutes away, there are 8-9 restaurants. Larger supermarkets, open on Sunday, are in La Capannina (20 minutes) or Ponsacco (25 minutes).
Not To Be Missed:
- Casciana Terme's curative thermal baths, in a 15 minute drive, date back to the 14th century. Terme Villa Borri offers massage and wellness treatments, two indoor thermal pools and a Turkish bath.
- Capannoli, 20 minutes away, has a Natural History museum inside Villa Baciocchi, from the Baroque period, set amidst a public park with exotic and age-old plants. The museum tracing the Valdera valley's animal history from the Prehistoric to the Middle Ages. 130 natural habitats are reconstructed with 1,400 animal species. Closed all day Monday and Wednesday afternoon.
- The charming village of Lari, a 25 minute drive, has an 11th century castle that was the sight of many medieval battles between Lucca and Pisa. The castle and it's dungeons are open to the public on most afternoons from 3 to 6 pm. The Martelli family pasta workshop is also found in Lari.
- The Valdera valley is known for truffles - The Savini family organizes guided truffle hunts on their wooded estate, 40 minutes away in Forcoli. As an add-on to the tour, they can demonstrate how to cook with truffles.
Public Transportation: Drive 40 minutes to Pontedera-Casciana Terme station with continuous service to Florence taking 1 hour or service to Pisa taking 15 minutes. The last train returns from Florence at 11 pm.
- The Amedei chocolate factory in San Gervasio, a 35 minute drive, arranges tours. The factory is close to the Alpaca Country House Restaurant, a working farm with an osteria serving lunch/dinner. Visitors are welcome to meet the alpaca and other farm friends.
- Pontedera, a 40 minute drive, is home to the Piaggio Vespa with a Vespa museum showcasing antique Vespas including a one of a kind model adorned by Salvatore Dali. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Beaches: Within an hour's drive is the ancient town of Castiglioncello with a 17th century tower and pine woods that drop dramatically to the narrow, rocky cove beaches along the Tuscan coast. Wider sandy beaches are an hour's drive to Tirrenia or 80 minutes to Viareggio.
Golf: In Castelfalfi, an hour away, the Castelfalfi Golf Resort features an 18-hole Mountain course, a 9-hole Lake course, driving range, swimming pool, tennis courts and a full service spa with massage and facial treatments. Open year round.
Walking trails: Woodland trails with marked routes are found all around the area. A map book of the trails is left inside Villa la Serena.
Open Air Markets: Local markets are found in the center of the villages starting at 8 am. They take place on Saturday in Chianni and Pisa, on Tuesday in Terricciola, on Wednesday in Lajatico and Pisa, on Thursday in Casciana Terme, on Friday in Pontedera.
Annual Festivals: The Valdera valley's festivals center around the agricultural products grown in this area.
- Sagra della Ciliegia: On the1st Sunday in June, this festival showcases the 19 varieties of cherries grown around the village of Lari with cherry flavored liquors and sweets.
- Festa della Bruschetta is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June in Lajatico.
- Sagra del Chiangiale: The feast of the Wild Boar is celebrated for two weekends in Chianni.
- La Sagra del Tartufo Bianco: During the 2nd, 3rd and 4th weekends, the town of San Miniato hosts a white truffle festival with food stands lining the streets and restaurants serving truffle themed menus.
- Wine and Olive Oil outdoor markets are set up in Peccioli during the last two weekends in November.