The Amalfi coast and the busy cities of Naples and Rome had been thoroughly explored at the start of our Italian summer adventure, so some downtime and relaxation were next on the agenda in the hills of Tuscany.

The Luxurious Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa high up in the hills was our next stop and it turned out to be the perfect mid-point break of our Italian summer.

This is a quick Journal of our visit, which was so good we stayed an extra day! 

Day One

Our journey that day had begun in Rome, taking the scenic train route along the coast from 

Rome to Pisa, then Lucca, then from Lucca meandering through the picturesque surroundings high into the hills of Barga.

On arrival in Barga, it’s a short but very twisty drive from the train station through the Serchio valley to the Resort.

Once we were settled there was only one place on our mind, we headed straight to the Spa, and couldn’t believe our luck when we had it all to ourselves that afternoon, pure bliss! 

It was a great start to our stay re-energising with Ice showers, swimming, sauna, steam, stretch, and emotional showers! (different lights and scents, not me crying in the shower) 

After all of the regeneration and Invigoration, I took an unplanned sleep to re-charge the batteries, on one of the most comfortable poolside loungers in the world.

All of these Italian adventures and sightseeing had taken there toll, in particular, two long days in Rome, sightseeing and the excitement it brings is tough, even for the Fitness World Explorer!

Once re-charged and well stretched I was ready for dinner and a little wine tasting. 

By coincidence before our evening meal, there was an excellent wine tasting event with the same vineyard we had a tour organised with for the next day, great people and great wine, this added to our anticipation for the main event the next day.

I was finally in Tuscany, and I was wine tasting, another travel experience I had wanted to have ticked off the long list.

After a very large delicious meal soaking up the red wine whilst soaking up the stunning surroundings, I was relaxed, and red wined out! 

Day Two

“Up and at em” for a morning workout in the great outdoors before breakfast, absolutely incredible with views of the valley, very hot, but incredible.

The wine tasting was the only thing on the agenda today, a short trip from the resort across the Serchio Valley to Podere Concori for a wine tasting education and walking the vineyards.

A very interesting experience, this was a way more in-depth tour than I had imagined, learning all about the history, special bio-dynamic processes, harvesting techniques, a few jokes whilst touring the vineyard, and of course, a little tasting.

It was a great tour, interesting and fun throughout, finishing up at a hosted lunch with the owners. 

The meal was a delicious homemade blend of traditional Tuscany flavours to match our wines, as we were told historical stories about the local area. 

We sat around chatting for hours with our fellow wine tasters, a mix of travellers visiting from Australia, USA, Germany and France, having great chats about world travels, and of course wine.

I know a fair bit about world travels, and now I know about 0.001% of what there is to know about wine. 

All of the wines at Podere Concori are incredible, but the red was our favourite and we continued drinking it sensibly each evening, it’s even more delicious when you know the passion and expertise used to make it! 

I had experienced my first wine tasting tour ever in the famous vineyards of Tuscany and loved it, the whole day was excellent.

The group lunch really made the tour an informative and unique travel experience, we loved it and would highly recommend it to others visiting this area.

Day Three

Today was the day we took a hike.

The ancient streets of medieval Barga can be seen in the distance from the resort and they are a short hiking distance down through the winding valley.

After another hearty breakfast, we set off early on a steady Sunday morning hike to explore more.

We knew very little about Barga before our visit, it’s a bit off the beaten track for tourists, this was fine with us it made for a very quiet relaxed Sunday atmosphere.

After our hike through the valley, we settled down amongst the locals outside a small local bakery for a coffee and pastry.

Crowds started to gather from all around and people were excitedly chatting, then a large group of road cyclists past by to cheers and songs from the crowds, great fun and very nice to see.

On the advice of our fellow Coffee drinkers, we strolled through the narrow streets, steep hills and stairways of the old historical walled town towards the Cathedral. 

Taking our time and admiring the buildings on the way up, only stopping occasionally to see local artists capturing the rooftop views and landscapes in their paintings.

The sound of the Cathedrals bells rang out over the town just as we reached the top, it was a nice moment to gaze over the valley taking in the views with the church bell tunes.

Barga shops were closed, the supermarket closed at lunchtime, not like the business of the city where a multitude of shops open, I like that everything and everyone winds down here on a Sunday.

I was glad we had mixed up the itinerary with something different, this is what you call a Sunday well spent, a hike exploring new places, delicious coffee, a little culture, then in the afternoon a light swim and relaxation by the pool again.

A great day with a good combination of activity and relaxation, visiting new places, which is always cool.

Day Four 

We stayed an extra day and took advantage of the great facilities for a full day of Fitness, relaxation and wellness, it really was amazing.

Italy was still experiencing an intense heatwave and the resort was just so nice we didn’t want to leave. 

Extending our stay gave us the extra valuable time in the afternoon sipping cocktails and planning the next stages of our trip, safely under the umbrella, it was sooo hot!

This resort really is a dream location, a seriously chilled out place compared to the tourist spots we had just visited in high season.

Even in the peak season, it was so spacious, incredibly luxurious, slow paced and super friendly. 

Exactly what was needed before the next leg of our Grande summer heatwave tour of Italy.

The next stage of our Italy trip was our Cinque Terre adventure, a slight detour planned by the pool that day, we weren’t intending to go there but I’m delighted we did.

Maybe the extra mental clarity from the deep relaxation helped to make that great decision? 

Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort is the perfect destination for Fitness World Explorers in Italy, incredible food, hilly walking trails, an excellent gym, spa, outdoor pool, all set in epic surroundings.

We sampled plenty of the delicious local food from the restaurant La veranda menu, enjoyed plenty of the local wine, then balanced everything out with great outdoor training and tough sessions in the wellness centre. 

Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort is the type of place I would like to escape to and set up camp, Rocky style, for a few weeks.

You could never become tired of the luxurious surroundings, it really was the perfect luxury countryside resort.

I was sorry to leave Tuscany, it had been an amazing first visit.

However, our next destination was waiting, onwards to Cinque Terre.

Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa

About the author
Lee Murrin
The Personal Trainer and Worldwide Traveller behind Fitness World Explorer.
He has worked in his passion as a Personal Trainer and coach for 16 years. His travels have taken him worldwide to 78 different countries on many adventures. Since his recent trip to Vineyards of Tuscany Italy, he now considers himself a wine connoisseur. [email protected]