With a population of just over 100, the small town of Bolgheri might not immediately catch your eye. But does that mean it’s not worth a visit? Absolutely not!
Bolgheri is a delightful place to relax in western Tuscany. Beyond its famous Super Tuscan wines, the village offers plenty to see, do, and eat. Even the warm ambiance and simple stone streets are welcoming. It’s brought to life by vibrant shops, wineries, and architecture. Don’t skip on this unsuspecting gem when you’re in Italy.
Before you head off to this Tuscan dream, it’s a good idea to learn more about it. Keep reading to prepare a trip filled with delicious eats, fantastic accommodations, and fascinating history.
Where in Italy is Bolgheri?
Bolgheri is located in western Tuscany, about 10 km from the Mediterranean shore.
The village is roughly 120 km southwest of Florence, but it’s closer to some smaller Tuscan cities that are popular destinations. Bolgheri is only 75 km south of Pisa, and 50 km south of the port city of Livorno.
The Wine Town
The Etruscan Coast area, studded with vineyards, is known to produce fantastic wines.
The Bolgheri area in particular is known as the birthplace of the so-called Super Tuscan wines. These red wines purposefully do not respect the traditional rules of preparation in the region. Instead, they use other types of grapes in addition to or instead of the classic Sangiovese variety.
Considered to be one of the best Italian red wines, the Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia is one of the types of Super Tuscan wine produced here. At over $400 a bottle, it’s not cheap, but many believe the quality and barbecue spice, and fragrant cherry notes are worth it.
Other notable wines from this area include Bolgheri Bianco, Bolgheri Rosso, and Bolgheri Superiore.
No matter which one you try, you’re bound to enjoy the wine here.
6 Things to do in Bolgheri
1. Oratory of San Guido
This small church was built in 1703 in honor of Guido della Gherardesca, more commonly known as Saint Guido. Constructed during a time of constant work and deadly disease, the oratory was supposed to be a space for joyful fulfillment.
The Oratory of San Guido is an octagonal building with a stunning tiled roof and beautiful stone walls, making it a must-visit when you’re in Bolgheri. It’s located at the end of Viale dei Cipressi.
2. Viale dei Cipressi
Translated literally to “Avenue of the cypresses”, both sides of this avenue are lined with thousands of towering trees that make for a picturesque drive. It’s a very long and straight route shaded by the rows of centuries-old cypress among the area rich in vines and olive trees.
Almost 5 km long, the avenue connects the Oratory of San Guido to the historic center of Bolgheri. It dates back to the 19th century, but it wasn’t paved until 1954.
3. Explore the Town
The precious village has plenty to see. At the end of Viale dei Cipressi, you’ll find the centerpiece of Bolgheri: the castle.
Its red brick exterior is elegant but serves as a reminder of the castle’s ancient past. The noble Gherardesca family has owned the castle since 1200, so it’s certainly got history. The castle lights up at sunset, providing a beautiful backdrop for a stroll.
Once past the castle, you’ll find the historic center. The meandering stone streets and alleys are lined with local specialty shops and places to eat delicious Tuscan food. Stop in one of the wine shops, restaurants, or taverns for a taste of true Italian culture.
4. Visit the Vineyards
Since Bolgheri is so well-known for its Super Tuscan wine, no trip is complete without a trip to the vineyards.
Check out Grattamacco, which sits upon rolling hills facing the sea. Most of this vineyard’s grapes are red, but it also grows white grapes and four varieties of olives.
Another lovely winery to visit is Tenuta Argentiera. Take a guided tour of the vineyard, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.
5. Wine, Olive, Oil, and Food Tastings
Not all wineries offer vineyard tours, but most of them at least offer tastings. Choose from one of the many wine-tasting tours that fit your preferences.
The famous Tenuta San Guido doesn’t do guided tours, but it has a restaurant with tasting menus and the opportunity to drink Sassicaia.
Besides wine, Tuscany is known for its olives and olive oil. Several opportunities await for visitors who want to try them on a tasting tour.
Of course, there are also plenty of food tastings in Bolgheri. Many of the food-tasting tours also include wine, so they might be more appealing if you don’t want to make the trek to a vineyard.
6. The Etruscan Coast
Bolgheri is just inland of the Etruscan Coast. The stunning coastline stretches from Livorno to Piombino, with plenty of space for adventure in between. Here, you’ll find gorgeous bays and beaches sandwiched between land and sea.
Stop along the coast to swim, read a book on the beach, or stop in one of the many medieval villages that line the Etruscan Coast, like Populonia and Suvereto.
In June, the coast’s main cities celebrate Blue Night (Notte Blu), a celebration to mark the beginning of the summer. The festivities include concerts, parties, and events highlighting food, culture, and wine.
How to Get to Bolgheri
When visiting Tuscany, you’ll be able to visit Bolgheri using different modes of transportation.
There are plenty of airports in the vicinity of the village. Pisa (PSA) is the closest, but Florence (FLR) isn’t too far away, either.
From Pisa, you can drive to Bolgheri in just under an hour. If you’d rather take public transportation, a combination of bus and train will get you there in 2-2.5 hours.
To get to the village from Florence, you can either drive for an hour and 50 minutes or take public transportation. Like Pisa, travel from Florence will require both train and bus. The journey will take 3-4 hours.
Best Places to Stay in Bolgheri
Bolgheri and the surrounding areas offer a multitude of places to stay. The most abundant accommodations are agritourisms and cozy bed and breakfasts. Here are some of the best places to stay:
This inn, just 2.4 km from Bolgheri, offers beautiful garden views and exceptional breakfast.
The highly rated bed and breakfast is located right in Bolgheri and is within walking distance of great restaurants.
Luxury suites are surrounded by the Tuscan countryside, gardens, and a crystalline swimming pool.
What to See Near Bolgheri
Besides the numerous activities to do in Bolgheri, there are plenty of other destinations to visit in the area, here are some recommendations.
The name Castagneto, meaning “chestnut grove” in Italian, was given to this town long ago. In 1907, it was modified and also named after the famous poet Giosuè Carducci, who resided here.
This municipality, which includes Bolgheri, is known for its wine production, extra virgin olive oil, and lovely seaside.
Castagneto Carducci is directly south of Bolgheri, and it’s just a 15-minute drive away.
This walled town is particularly known for its role in the famous Twilight sequel.
While many fans of the vampire film visit the city for its cinematic past, it has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. It’s been inhabited since approximately 800 BC and has been the site of religious leadership, battles, and other phenomena during the years that followed.
Check out the Roman theater, the Pinacoteca e Museo Civico di Volterra art gallery, and the cathedral.
The town of Volterra is a 45-minute drive north of Bolgheri.
Another nearby town, Suvereto is a peaceful destination with just under 2,000 inhabitants.
It’s part of “I Borghi Più Belli d’Italia”, an association of the most beautiful small Italian towns with historical significance.
There are several monuments, parks, and other places of interest in Suvereto. If you want to see extraordinary architecture, visit the Rocca Aldobrandesca castle or the Cantina Petra.
The latter is a winery that boasts a massive and unique structure built into the hillside.
Suvereto is slightly further south than Castagneto Carducci.
This quaint town is just a 45-minute drive southeast of Bolgheri. With evidence suggesting prehistoric dwelling in this area, there’s so much to uncover in Massa Marittima.
If you’re more interested in ancient history, check out archaeological sites like Poggio Castiglione and the archeological area near Lago dell’Accesa.
Or, if you prefer to learn about religious history, visit the dozens of churches and religious buildings. The Cathedral of San Cerbone and Convento delle Clarisse are especially notable.
The town is known to craft delicious treats: cavallucci, panforte, and ricciarelli. All three are prepared differently than the sweets of the same name made in Siena.