Our first Feedback ! and TOP TEN Food shops !

From Natascha who when searching to Rent a Villa in Tuscany, found La Collina del Sole and from all the Villas for rent in Tuscany - chose us !  here is what she wrote “I thank you so much for your invaluable information (and I am really enjoying the blog). I was very excited about the oil and wine tasting you mentioned. We will definitely be stopping in at Andrea Bertucci on our way to the villa (done, Done and DONE!).  Also, we definitely want to book walking tours and are planning on contacting Francesco Pierotti directly. Chrissie, I would just like to say that not only do I love your website but I love your blog as well. You provide a lot of information and, as a tourist, I find it amazing. Thanks again!

So if you are looking for Villa rentals in Tuscany or Holiday Villas in Lucca this blog is for you, the best food shops in the area !

Close to La Collina del Sole you will find  “Moscardini Mari Chiara’s “ General store, the vegetables come from the fields nearby, Mari Chiara carries a handy selection of general food items like cheese, cold meats, tinned food, fresh bread, ice cream,  and of course home grown vegetables and fruit and it is a café !  it is a 15 minute walk, or 5 minutes’ drive from “ La Collina del Sole

I love food shopping! It is such an integral part of the enjoyment of food, specially when bought from small shops where the vegetables are FRESH as fresh can be, in fact often straight from the field, where the butcher butchers his own meat and carefully selects the best cut. Where wine shops have excellent assortments and low mark ups ! Where pasta is cut to YOUR specification FRESH and as much or little as you want, the JOY of it is overwhelming, as indeed is the fun of cooking it never mind the treat of eating it !

So here is my top tip selection in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana


La Piazetta – 12 Via Fulvio Testi, Telephone 0583 644520 Located between the Loggiato and the Piazza del Duomo, It is an excellent veggie shop with specialities like figs, fresh locally picked berries, fresh funghi and other treats when they are in season; they also stock truffle salami YUMMY ! and fresh local honey. Run by a husband and wife team limited English spoken, very friendly.

Casa della Frutta, on Via Vittorio Emanuele, I had to put the phot otherwise you woudl not know it is a shop! except for the occasional basket of fruit outside, It has no sign over the doorway, opposite the main entrance to the old town, between the main car park and the small pebbled street leading down to chiesa della visitazione di Maria - very nice and affable guy runs it, he speaks moderate English, his shop is very well stocked and will occasionally have in season “treats” - very conveniently placed shop as it is the closest to the main car park.

Da Andrea , Via Farini , Telephone 0583 65373  - Opposite the supermarket Castelli and La Credenza Pizzeria, and just before Magnani where you can get English newspapers and toys; Da Andrew is on the road down a short flight of steps. Andrea the owner stocks a reasonable selection of veggies. His wife is from “La Villa” one of our neighbouring villages


There is only one to go to  it is Maccelleria Broggi  , Via Vallisneri  12,  on the Piazza delle Erbe, Telephone  0583 644214. Excellent locally grown meats.  The young owner, Emanuelle, speaks good English and will prepare the meats to your specification.  Macelleria Broggi also stocks a small selection of general shopping requirements and a good selection of cured meats.


Again Only one to speak of, L’Aia di Piero, Porta O. Dini,on Via Roma, Telephone  05893 62519,  www.aiadipiero.com ,   Open every day of the week, located just by the East side entrance to the fortressed part of Castelnuovo.  It makes and sells Delicious Italian and local specialties, wonderful food, sauces, ready prepared meals, AMAZING Potato Bread [Pane di patate] – all these delicacies are fairly expensive but worth it.


Alfreda Ginestri, Via Farini, Telephone 0583 62 134.  Located near the Newsagent and toy store Magnani – Ginestri does THE BEST Ciabbatta in town, it also does Focaccia, wood oven cooked Potato Bread [ pane al legno and pane di patate] and ... THE BEST Chocolate torta, which is a local specialty made with Ricotta and oodles of Chocolate. It gets better as it matures, mind you it hardly ever gets to mature in our household ! The owner is the sister to the famous Ginestri bakery in Torrite.

Bechelli and Landini, Piazza Orlando Dini 4, Telephone 0583 62320. Loated near the Duomo in Castelnuovo, very near Aia di Piero and our very favourite “New Bar”.  They do GREAT Foccacia & Potato Bread, amongst other things, they are always busy.

Ginestri, Main Square, Torrite, Telephone 0583 62613...... ok it is not IN Castelnuovo but it is SO good, and GORGEOUS Torrite is a hop, skip and a jump away, A 25 minute drive from “ La Collina del Sole ”, in Torrite a very beautiful small town, Ginestri is famous in the area for its Chocolate Torta that gets better with time … if it survives. Also great focaccia, ciabatta, etc.  The owner Renata is very affable but runs out of tortas quickly best to order in advance. Sizes available are medium and “grande” [large] To book call Telephone 0583 62613.


Back in Castelnuovo - L’Arte della Pasta, Via D. Pacchi, Telephone 0583 641464. Tucked away in Via D. Pacchi which is behind and under the main square, accessible through the hole in the wall in the main Piazza Umberto. L’Arte della Pasta has homemade pasta made by Valeria Adami which can be ordered or bought on the spot in any quantity and of any shape and thickness that you wish. They also sell freshly homemade sauces like Bolognese. Worth the little walk, closed on Mondays.


Ok, It is not IN Castelnuovo BUT it is Worth the visit ! If you like Cured meats and are allowed to take some home, like a leg of Parma ham ? Truffle Sausages ? Bellandi – L’Antica Norcineria, Via Rinascimento 6, Ghivizzano 55053 , Tel 0583 77008, www.anticanorcineria.it. The Truffle Salami is wonderful; they cure their own meats, salamis, hams, even biroldo, which is the Italian version of Black pudding.  One of their walls is lined with whole legs of Parma Ham of different sweetness’s from Parma to the local Cured ham which is delicious.  L’Antica Norcineria is a good 35 minute drive from “ La Collina del Sole “ in Ghivizzano. Where you also find the beautifully preserved Castello di Ghivizzano  which stages medieval events in September and live Nativity Scene in December So you can also swing a spot of culture into your gourmand experience.

Now you may have gathered that I don’t really like supermarkets, but sometimes they are a must so … Here are the top 3 in order of preference.

Castelli Supermarket META  - Via Farini, Castelnuovo central Piazza, Telephone 0583 62250. Situated just off the main square called Piazza Umberto due NW. Castlenuovo is a 15 minute drive by car from “La Collina del Sole“. Castelli Supermarket is well stocked with all types of diary food, fresh meat, cured meats, fresh vegetables, drinks and many other goods in addition to being reasonably priced. A good place to go if you do not feel like exploring all the delightful specialist shops found in the town.

Also in Castelnuovo but off the beaten track  is CONAD, Via Valmaira,  Near the Minicipal Pool in Castelnuovo. Is the local “large” Supermarket on the road that runs between the local pool and the main town, Opening hours 9AM to 8PM. Easy onsite parking and a 20 minute ride from “ La Collina del Sole ”.

Massive has everything including electrical appliances!  - E L’Eclerc , Via di Fondovalle, 55027 Gallicano, Tel  0583 72511. On the outskirts of Gallicano, a 25 minute drive from “ La Collina del Sole ”, with a huge car park on site. You will probably have driven past it if you came from Lucca. It is a very large and extremely well stocked supermarket.


If you are in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana  on Thursday  it starts 8AM runs to 1PM In Barga  - held on Saturday starts at 8AM and runs to 1PM With a riot of flowers, trinkets, inexpensive clothes, shows, cooking Utensils [always essential when travelling !!! ] home furnishings, candy floss, plants, hunting gear, etc.  Great fun to visit and be tempted by the market stalls which have many locally produced goods; the Castelnuovo shops also make a special effort on the day.

Then of course you could go to a different excellent bar or restaurant for every meal of the day for at least 10 days without going to the same place twice, by spending very modest sums sometimes less than you would spend on ingredients for a meal and of course by adding a few kilos on the way, but then it is a holiday right ?