“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ ” -Luke 4:4

And in Italy he does not have to! While enjoying your villa rentals in Tuscany we have selected the most amazing Gelato shops and Pizzerias in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, and further afield, banter aside we also mention churches with the most beautiful religious art and architecture inspired from the Bible. Just a stone’s throw away from La Collina del Sole , the most glorious of the villas for rent in Tuscany , you will find an exceptional selection of Pizzerias and Gelaterias.  So when you are enjoying your Holiday villas in Lucca or if you are further afield in Florence we have THE BEST gelateria in the world ! Gelateria dei Neri , on Via Dei Neri,  close to the church of Santa Croce. So fear not you WILL enjoy great foodie comfort when you rent a villa in Tuscany . First of all  Gelaterias in Castelnuovo just a stone’s throw away from La Collina del Sole there are three recommended pit stops all with home gelato production: First  -Botega del Gelato Piazza Umberto, Very central on the main Piazza Umberto. It is the most established and yummiest Gelateria in town. With a concise selection of freshly made Gelati.

Second - In... Gelateria. Piazzetta del Duomo, Tel  349 425 48 02 . It has delicious freshly made ice cream, frozen yoghurt, frappe, ice cream cakes or tortas, gluten free ice cream, brioches, crepes and waffles.  Closed Tuesdays during winter only.

Third  - Fuori dal Centro ,Piazzetta O. Dini . Just inside the east side entrance to the fortressed part of Catelnuovo,   very close to the Aia di Piero and Pizza Clary – gelato and frozen yoghurt.  They also make “Merangue” based ice cream which lighter in weight and a different consistency to traditional “gelato”

Further afield in the historic and beautiful town of Barga you find Gelateria Baiocchi in Via Pascoli Giovanni 15 Telephone + 39 0583 71 1266 which is almost opposite a shop selling beautiful hand painted ceramics, you will be tempted....  we have been !

On a more substantial note; unless you would like to have an entire Ice Cream meal and why not?  Ice Cream might be high in sugars and fats BUT it is a very good treat for the body to have from time to time, we now go onto Pizzerias, pizza tends to be eaten in the evening in traditional parts of Italy, which means that Pizzerias tend to open only in the evening and if a restaurant offers pizza it will usually be available only in the evenings too,  as the Pizza oven needs to be warmed up a few hours in advance.

In Castelnuovo di Garfagnana a hop skip and jump from La Collina del Sole one of the most awesome Lucca Villa rentals you will find.  Is our favourite:

 “ Il Centro “  -Via Vallisneri,  in Piazza delle Erbe, Telephone  0583 644550 Il Centro makes the thinnest wood oven pizza in town, DELICIOUS and always very busy. Run by a family team; waiting time for take away varies from 20 to 50 minutes. Open late afternoon and evening only, closed on Wednesdays year round except in August.

Next in line is Pizzeria Clary, on the  corner of Via O. Dini, Telephone 0583 65 198. It Opens late afternoon and evenings during the week & from noon on Thursdays. Pizzas are GOOD and cooked in a wood oven. The base tomato sauce they make is slightly saltier than in other places, and very reasonably priced.  Do try the Bruschetta Pizza and the Vegetable pizza, they are delicious and refreshingly different !

Last but not least if you like your Pizza salty and with very rich mozzarella Cheese, try La Credenza, Via Farini 2, Telephone 0583 63 9332.  This is a Pizzeria and Rosticceria, – with a wood oven, they make the richest of all the Pizzas in town, also delicious roast chickens, beef and pork. Located next to ”Castelli” Supermarket just after Piazza Umberto, which is the main piazza in Castelnuovo. Open late morning through to late evening.

Also slightly out of town in Pieve Fosciana you will find  Il Pozzo,  Pieve Fosciana, Via Europa 2 /A, Telefone 0583 66 63 80 ,  e-mail ristorante.ilpozzo@alice.it. Il Pozzo In Pieve Fosciana A 20 minute drive from “ La Collina del Sole ” does great pizza although only for supper. This is also a great restaurant with the best antipasto [mixed starter] dish in the area. Giordano and  Maurizio the owners of “Il Pozzo” have formed part of the “Slow Food” movement from its inception, they are passionate about properly grown or reared food and have won several awards. Pretty busy but also fairly capacious, they close on Wednesdays apart from August when they open seven days a week.

Now onto Food for the Soul and the eyes.

Nearest La Collina del Sole  you will find  the Santuario  “Madonna delle Stelle” in fact all you have to do is walk down hill ! On this site stood a place of worship to the Virgin Mary in 1167. It is said to have been destroyed by an earthquake. The ruins were found in 1798 with a beautiful Fresco of the Madonna which dates back several centuries. On this site a new church was built and consecrated in 1827 and attracts pilgrims from many miles around.

Also in one of the neighbouring villages of particular interest is the Rocca di Ceserana or the Fortress of Ceserana; a Romanesque church of Saint Andrea, built on a stone outcrop, with lovely paper thin marble windows, the fortress was later an important Military garrison and stronghold in the XIII and XIV centuries, it was used to combat the “Salt Pirates” who inhabited the Apuane hills.

In Lucca, One of the most incongruous churches that I have come across is the one in Lucca in Piazza San Michele, with a beautiful and incongruous faҫade. That is so ornate it looks totally different to the body of the church , which was never finished as the money ran out, a salutary reminder not to be purely concerned with appearances.  Here too there is a good if expensive gelateria on the corner of the piazza.

Also in Lucca we find the Duomo with the beautiful Alabaster tomb sculpture of Ilaria del Cerretto in the Cathedral of San Martino, it has been so beautifully carved, you could almost expect her to wake up refreshed from a deep sleep.  Outside the walls of Lucca you find another gelateria and cake shop called the “Angolo Dolce” in Via Borgo Giannotti, they make their own tortas and pastries.

In Florence, the wealth of art must be God inspired from the Exquisite Cimabue Santa Croce Crucifixion painting to the Baptistery mosaics, the numerous masterpieces of Michael Angelo scattered around Florence and the beautiful sculptures and roundels of Luca della Robbia again dotted all around Florence and San Miniato [which overlooks Florence], and of course Ghiberti’s Baptistery doors which are so intricate and accessible for all to see.  A reminder that God is a Glorious Creator who lavishes his blessings extravagantly hence I fully agree with the statement Jesus made : “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:4