Within half an hour…
Barga Beautiful and lively small town, maze of little streets with colourful houses, small squares, wonderful views of surrounding mountains from the cathedral at the top. Holds jazz festival in July and opera festival in August.
Castelnuovo di Garfagnana Picturesque small town built around the fortress, La Rocca. Cobbled streets, interesting shops, cathedral.
Borgo a Mozzano Small Medieval village with some interesting little shops and a market, and much-photographed Devil’s Bridge. (The story goes that the villagers made a pact with the Devil that he would build the bridge in return for the soul of the first villager that crossed it. The villagers outwitted him by sending a dog over.)
Montefegatesi Tiny mountain village with ancient houses and stunning views.
There are numerous other charming hill villages dotted about. You will best discover these by stumbling upon them!
A half-day trip…
Lucca (30 minutes, or 25 min by train, 40 min by bus) Lovely walled city, Roman origins, rather like a smaller, quieter version of Florence - large, elegant squares, amphitheatre, charming, narrow shopping streets, beautiful churches, villas, art gallery, birthplace of Puccini. You can walk or cycle round the city walls (4km).
Pescia (35 minutes) Small Medieval town, known as “the city of flowers” because of its huge flower market. It has an interesting cathedral with a Baroque interior, and various attractive palazzi.
Lake Massaciuccoli and Torre del Lago (40 minutes) This is where Puccini wrote many of his operas, and where his operas are still regularly performed. You can get a boat across the lake to his house, now the Puccini Museum, or visit the beach here.
Viareggio and the Versilian coast (40 minutes) Elegant, Liberty-style buildings, and the beach.
A day trip…
Florence (1¼ hrs) Stunning city, birthplace of the Renaissance, beautiful multi-coloured marble cathedral, baptistery and churches, the Uffizi gallery (Botticelli’s Birth of Venus), Accademia (Michelangelo’s David, restored 2004), the Ponte Vecchio bridge, River Arno.
Pisa (1hr) The Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) with the famous Leaning Tower also has a lovely marble cathedral and baptistery. Pisa is a university town and has the Arno river, as well as lots of attractive streets and squares to wander through.
Siena (2hrs) Worth the trek and the crowds to see this lovely Medieval city, with the famous main square, the Campo, striking black and white cathedral and art gallery. You may want to stop off at San Gimignano on the way, a hill village famous for its tall towers.
There are many other cities such as Pistoia, Prato and Volterra within easy reach, which have lovely architecture, and are less crowded than the better-known towns.
Skiing and walking
The area around Bagni is fantastic skiiing and walking territory. Just to the north lies the National Park of the Apuan Alps. The nearest ski resorts are at Cutigliano (35 minutes) and Abetone (45 minutes) in the Appenines (snow from December to April).