There are so many little towns and communities dotted around the Italian countryside, you are spoiled each time you venture out for the day. One amazing little place we stumbled across was Chiusdino, just under an hour from Siena and ninety minutes from Florence.
There were so many wonderful things to see on our trip around Italy and so many dog friendly ways to get to all the sites we wanted to see, or at least what we could fit in to three weeks. Although most of our travel was by car, local transit or on foot, we did break from our regular programming and rented a couple of Vespas to visit Chiusdino in the Siena region of Tuscany. Would this stop us from from bringing our dog along to enjoy the afternoon? A big ‘heck no’! Check out our fun little video of Tikka riding a Vespa in Tuscany:
Reading up on all the dog friendly things we could do on our trip to Italy, one particular place stood out to us as a ‘must – visit’, the Dog Beach at San Vincenzo, in the Livorno area of Tuscany only one hour south of Pisa.
This little piece of doggy heaven completely caters to its four legged visitors and it’s impressive to see how much thought goes into creating something solely for the dog’s well being and happiness…other countries need to take note. There are dog friendly beaches around the world, but this is on a whole other level with a huge off leash beach, dog events, parasols and loungers to rent for a shady nap and dog treats sold right on the sand.
Unfortunately we missed the beach season by just a few days, so although the beach was open to visit, the services had closed for the season so we couldn’t take advantage of everything Dog Beach had on offer during the summer. Coming from Canada, the temperature still had the heat of a July day, but alas was turning too cool for the sun loving Italians. It was still a fantastic afternoon and the beach was busy with dogs and owners enjoying the Tyrrhenian sea and warm sand.
In the regular season, one side of the beach is set up with bright yellow sun umbrellas with reserved loungers for rent and you can have your dog right next to you or on your sun bed. The other side is an open area that you can bring your own chairs or towels and lay right out on the beach. There is a bar and food right at the entrance and they have items for your dog as well. Doggy ice cream anyone?
Other amenities include: Fresh drinking water, showers (dog and people), agility course, weekly vet visit, monthly dog events, washrooms, easy parking, and direct access to the sea. All that is required from your dog is that they are behaved and show absolutely no aggression towards other dogs or people. Fair enough for such an open area with so many off leash dogs.
Now look at all these happy pups on the San Vincenzo Facebook Page! That’s what going to the beach is all about 🙂
And if you are not in the Livorno area, the dog beach page on the Explore Italian Culture website lists more dog friendly beaches all around Italy, ready for you to take your sand loving dog to! Each one has different regulations, so do a bit of reading before showing up (size of dog, muzzles needed, vaccinations etc…)
Can’t wait for our next trip to visit them all!
*This post is part of our traveling around Italy with our dog. Here are some other dog friendly activities we discovered in Tuscany:
As we settled into spending a few days in the Tuscan countryside after leaving Florence we found we weren’t short of fun dog friendly activities. Knowing that one of our days would be spent exploring the Siena countryside on Vespas with our dog Tikka with us we sought out an easy adventure to get her used to being carried in her new backpack.
We took a couple bikes out from our hotel (check back for an upcoming review) and traveled up the road a few miles to explore the surroundings and only 15 minutes into our trip we stopped at the incredible Abbey of San Galgano.
Once you turn off the main road, you are welcomed by an incredible row of cypress tress, leading you to the Abbey. It’s a fantastic spot for a leisurely picnic with your dog as it has everything: Open fields for having a good run around, gorgeous views, lots of quiet places to set up lunch, and a bit of history that you can absorb at your own pace with your dog right beside you.
The Abbey of Saint Galgano is nestled between the towns of Chiusdino and Monticiano, in the Siena province of Tuscany. It’s a beautiful Gothic structure built in the 13th century by the Cistercian Monks. The roof has long disappeared due to a history of looting and corruption (removing the lead supports to sell off) but this gives it a unique, open air quality to the structure as the sky opens above you when you stand in the middle of the Abbey looking upwards.
Located at the same spot, just up a little hill is the unusual round chapel Rotanda di Montesiepi and the tomb of Saint Galgano that form the Hermitage of Monte Siepi. It’s only a 10 minute walk up a wooded path and worth the visit to see the ‘real’ sword of the stone that some debate started the famous King Arthur legend. The sword is said to have been thrust into the stone on the day that Galgano retired from serving as a Knight and embraced a peaceful hermit’s life until his death in 1181.
Tikka did well with her first backpack ride as she quickly settled into watching the world go by as the humans had to use their legs. We were confident that she was ready for her Vespa adventure (photos and info on our day out with scooters coming in another week).
If you are in the Siena area of Italy (35km South West from Siena to The Abbey of San Galgano) and looking for an afternoon or a few hours to spend in the countryside with your dog we can give a big paws up to coming to this historic site. For more info and directions visit the San Galgano page at Discover Tuscany.
Looking for more info on Traveling around Italy with your dog? Here are some of our recent posts in our series:
“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
~ W.C. Fields
A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a classic stop to visit a winery and have a long, slow meal in the Tuscan countryside. All made that much better by having our dog join us.
With our new city love Florence, Italy fading behind us, *sniff, we headed for our lunch date and tour of a beautiful winery in Tuscany. We left a bit early so that we could take our time driving through the country to get to the Grieve area of Chianti by 12pm. It’s under a one hour drive but we were glad we took the extra time as leaving Florence took some navigation skills to get onto the ring road and there were a couple wrong turns before we were solidly on our way. When you leave enough time, these ‘turns’ become mini adventures and without the stress of time you can enjoy the additional ramble through a newly found street.
The concierge’s suggestion to head to Greti along the A222 gets a big thumb’s up. This is what a road trip with your dog in Italy is all about. It’s a very scenic and pretty drive, through small villages and over hills with expansive views of vineyard after vineyard. Tuscany at it’s finest.
In just under an hour we were on the dirt road that takes you up to Castello di Verrazzano (The Castle of Verrazzano) to start our tour and sample their libations.We drove in as they were harvesting the grapes along the road and we felt like a travel brochure was coming to life through our car windows. What an amazing estate… picturesque in every way, from buildings to landscape to the Tuscan sun shining above it.
The castle is in the heart of the Chianti Classico region and is steeped in history. It was originally a Roman settlement, and is mentioned in a year 1150 manuscript for it’s 52 hectares of magnificent vineyards.
The Verrazzano family took over the property in the 7th century. Their family’s claim to fame is Giovanni da Verrazzano, an explorer who was born here in 1485 and later sailed off to discover the bay of New York along with other parts of the East Coast of the US.
It changed hands a few times and “in 1958 the Cappellini family took over the Castle on the road of decadence and brought it back it to its former glory by restoring the villa and rebuilding the agricultural tissue and the vineyards, according to an ancient model, respecting the historical and architectonic features of the place. Cavalier Cappellini understood since the beginning the importance of the history and the beauty of the Chianti area for a better promotion of farming productions. He laid the foundations for that awareness that inspired the institution of the Agritourism practice.”.
Tikka says “Enough history, on with the tour!” We headed out with our small group to explore the expansive gardens and ponds, buildings, ancient cellars and vineyards of the estate.
They welcomed Tikka into the tour and only asked that we pick her up when we were down in the cellars. She was as keen to explore the property as much as we were as I’m sure it was full of great smells, especially the salami curing along the rafters.
The guide was friendly and was full of interesting information on the the wine making process, taking us through each step, showing us the grapes and the amazing wooden barrels that make a Chianti wine so special. Verrazzano also produces olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and other products and it was neat to see everything in various stages of completion.
The tour ended at a huge tasting room for a beautiful wine pairing lunch. Plates came out with local salamis and ham, pasta, sausages, pork loin and salad, all balanced with their amazing range of Verrazzano wines. Although full, we squeezed in room for a taste of pecorino cheese drizzled with their incredible “Balsamico Verrazzano”. This is an aged balsamic vinegar that is as sweet as syrup that could be used as a topping for ice cream. No joke.
Tikka appreciated the afternoon nap next to us while we had lunch, and we appreciated that they accommodated her any way they could. Well, to a point. I’m sure she would have loved to hang out in the kitchen drooling while the pork loin was sizzling on the grill.
After stuffing ourselves stupid we had a little walk by the vineyard and took some pics around the property before heading off to our hotel in the Siena region of Tuscany, our next stop for a few days.
The afternoon was divine and all dog friendly – Castello di Verrazzano is a perfect mid way stop if you are going from Florence to Siena with your dog along for the ride.
Lots of different wineries open their doors to dogs, so don’t hesitate to bring your furry friend for a fun day out at a vineyard, just call ahead if you want to double check if they are allowed. Here is another great post from Bosco Abroad and their visit to a winery in the Piemonte area.
*This is part of a series of travelling around Italy with your dog. Check out our stay in Florence!