Lago di Bilancino

I feel as if I’d just spent the last few days on a resort with not a care in the world!

An adventure was put to us Friday night by our newly acquainted friends Guy and Shelly from I Tatti while they were over sharing a lovely bottle of vino and enjoying the cool evening breeze. Guy had rented a vespa for the weekend to test out whether he wanted to buy an auto or manual (and also to see if Shelly was up for the ride). They were going to take a ride out of town to an undisclosed venue (a surprise for Shelly) and wondered if we’d like to take their car and come with??

With about a seconds thought I jumped at the chance even though I hadn’t driven a manual for quite a while and it was on the opposite side of the road. Minor details when your heart craves adventure!

The sporty convertible was awaiting us when we arrived at their place the next morning. Shelly had already popped the roof down as it was an absolute stunning day for a drive in the country. However, I have this annoying problem that stops me from driving in convertibles. I freak out driving in wide open spaces with the sun shining and no roof on top. As weird as it is, I completely spin out and start having panic attacks so despite the cries of despair from the boys as Shelly put the roof back down we were pretty much good to go on our most excellent adventure.


We were off to Lago di Bilancino which is a man-made lake about 30km from Florence. There is no train line anywhere near the lake so without a car/vespa it is pretty hard to get to. Hopping back into a car that is on the opposite side to our car in Australia didn’t feel as weird as I thought it might, I guess all those years of driving in the States set me up pretty well. I also managed to get out of the drive way without stalling so we were off to a pretty good start. 

The drive was beautiful, it started out in the back blocks of Fiesole and wound through beautiful green farm lands and tiny villages you would never know existed. I managed to try very hard to get us lost (totally missed a turn!) however, Nic is a great navigator and managed to take us on a journey through the back roads of god-knows-where that looked more like a mountain goat trail than an actual road (I found out it was in fact a road as this car came pelting towards us on a very narrow path!). After driving along the goat track for about 10 minutes we all of a sudden were at a T-intersection with white lines and very fast cars. We managed to lose our vespa companions right around the time I was missing the turn (as it happens they also missed a few turns), however, we all managed to arrive at the lake in about 40 mins after leaving home and taking in the spectacular view that lay before us


It wasn’t what I was expecting, and to tell you the truth I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was something along the lines of a sandy beach and water. What we got was a lot more than that! We parked the car and headed down to Cafe Bahia which had everything you could possibly need for a day at a lake. We hired a beach umbrella and two large fold out beds for 15 euro (really good for a day’s hire I thought), plonked ourselves down, applied copious amounts of sunscreen which I am sure was of great fascination to the beautifully super-tanned Italians who surrounded us, and then hit the water. 

Not only was it a lake but a lake with toys! After getting use to the shockingly cold water, we all swam out to these great bouncing pontoons that kept us and the other 50+ people entertained for hours. Trying to climb up the ladder on the side of the blue inflatable was a little precarious. However, after watching about 20 people prior to attempting it myself, I figured out the fastest and least embarrassing way to get up (all I needed was to be not only the whitest person there but also the most clumsy!).

ImageWe climbed, swam, jumped off the big long white things, and then proceeded to lie back on the sun beds (in the shade of course) and watch as the boys found another blow up water slide and proceeded to show the local kids just how silly you could be on something so fun


Hours passed and all we did was relax and enjoy the beautiful day. Hunger kicked in around two so we took the 20m walk up to the cafe and enjoyed some lovely summer salads that were really reasonable priced at around 7 euro each and tasted fresh and  delicious. After lunch we went back to our beach beds and did as a lot of Italians were doing — taking an afternoon siesta while the kids went back for more water action.

The boys love the water and it is always a struggle to get them out so when the time came to deliver the bad news it was, as we expected, the hardest part of the day. With a few more slides and spills on the white inflatable they were soon ready to hit the road.


I managed to make it home without getting us lost which is always a good end to a perfect summer day. However, I did manage to get caught on a very narrow road (close to home) with an oncoming vehicle. That needed a bit of juggling for us both to pass one another without joining as one. In the end I had to reverse up with the reverse beeper going out of control as there really was nowhere to go! We just happened to be walking on this same road the week before so here is a picture of where we were suppose to fit two cars…..


See I can almost touch both sides of the road!

I cannot remember a day when the four of us were so content and relaxed doing nothing but swimming and resting. A day trip from Florence I highly recommend in the summer months for families, singles…anyone who needs a bit of R&R!



10 thoughts on “Lago di Bilancino

  1. Sounds like a lot of fun (except for the cold water) and it’s a good thing you can drive a manual – I can’t, so would have missed that experience! and those narrow roads – that’s where I have panic attacks! but as I’m usually the navigator I get to close my eyes when it’s too scary!!

  2. You have some great tour guides. Thanks for passing their insights along! I do sympathise with your views on convertibles, although I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t do a mock-up photo with the top down 😉

  3. I guess Nic wasn’t volunteering to drive! What useful friends to have. Your later chicken recipe is like the one I found in Saveur ages ago. make it regularly and did make for you I think when you had broken ankle. See ordinary email.

  4. Oh my gosh, the lake is awesome and no doubt your boys had a fantastic time! I would need some serious relaxing to ever get behind the wheel of a car in Europe again….that road….YIKES!

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