Lunigiana, the northern peninsular of Tuscany, is nestled between the Appennini and Apuane Alp mountain ranges following the river bed of the Magra that separates Liguria from Emilia Romagna. Known as the “Undiscovered Tuscany”, Lunigiana is relatively untouched by tourism or heavy industry making it nature lovers’ perfect holiday destination. Lunigiana, literally translated as “earth of the moon”, takes its name from the ancient Etruscan city of Luni, a Roman settlement founded in 677 BC. The region historically served as a passageway for pilgrims between the rest of Europe and Rome (Via Francigena) and was fought over between the Malaspina and the Medici families leaving its landscape dominated by medieval castles with tower watchposts, fortified stone walled hill top hamlets, baroque villas and palaces with XVII/XVII century frescos and ancient churches. Nature provides Lunigiana its greatest attractions from trekking paths through the Tuscan / Emilian Apennine National Park (www.appenninopark.it/parco.asp ), skiing at Zum Zeri or at the Cerreto Pass (used for the World Skiing Championships) or the thermal springs and caves at Equi Termi. Lunigiana is also renowned for its farmhouse cuisine that takes the freshest ingredients from its nature, namely chestnut flour, mushrooms, natural herbs (Torta D’erbi), fresh ricotta and other cheeses, DOP (Protection of Origination) honey and lamb (Zeri). During the summer months, almost every town and village will host a sagre (festival) dedicated to different and many traditional gastronomy of the region.
This castle town is magically set on the confluence of the River Magre and Verde and acts as the northern gate to Lunigiana. Characterised by its many stone bridges (from which it takes its name, literally translated as “ponte tremulus” or “trembling bridges”) and cobbled narrow streets winding onto its piazzas and up to its northern gate, “Porta Parma” and the Castello del Piagnaro which hosts the Museum of the Statue Stele, ancient stone carvings from the settlements of Luni dating back to 3400BC. Pontremoli hosts the Premio Bancarella Literary Festival each year in the middle of July and the medieval festival of “Medievale” at the end of July as well as normal market days every Wednesday and Saturday mornings of the year and antique and artesian markets on the first and third Sunday morning of each month.
Fivizzano is the widest village of Lunigiana. It extends from the Appenines to the Apuan Alps. The numerous valleys, of the torrents Rosaro, Mommio and Lucido meet all the course of the Aulella. In the zone it is possible to admire great landscapes, from hills to mountains with a mild climate.
Considered the Florence of Lunigiana, Fivizzano has always been an important center. Castles, churches and noble palaces show it. Fivizzano gave itself to the Medici family in the XV century and remained in their possession until the come of the Lorena. The walls of Fivizzano were erected for order of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1540, while the baroque font of the main square was constructed from Cosimo III in 1683. Beyond the walls, the village of the Verrucola where the castle of the Verrucola lies, erected from Spinetta Malaspina the Great. Fivizzano gave birth to Jacopo from Fivizzano, one of the first printer.
Every summer in July, the “Disfida degli arceri di terra e di corte” fill with people the medieval village. Nearby, we can visit the Romanesque churc of Saint Paul of Vendaso, the village of Soliera with the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Necks, the villages of Gragnola with the castle and Vinca. Moreover, the Botanical Garden of the Frignoli and the village of Sassalbo.
Filattiera is a fortified hilltop settlement of Byzantine origin, dominated by its castle tower, church and medieval piazza. Its name comes from the Byzantine term “Fulacterion: meaning “watch tower” thereby signifying its strategic position as an enemy watch post. At the bottom of the hill, its parish church, the Romanic Church of Sorano, Logarghena and the local church, La Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista.Twice a year, the church hosts a procession of the cross with band music along the road leading to Tarasco.
Both Bagnone and Magrate are hill top settlements dominated by their Malaspina castles. The Malgrate castle was built in 1355 and has been recently restored. Based on a rock above the river, Bagnone has several watermills and was historically fought over for its strategic position on the crossroads between the Appennines and Lucca/Bolano. Just outside Bagnone, there is another village worth visiting with its eleventh century castle, Castiglione del Terziere which has also been perfectly restored.
Historic capital of the right bank of the River Magra of the Malaspina dello Spino Secco rule, Mulazzo is situated high above the Mangiona stream and hosts the BancarelVino fair where visitors can enjoy wine tasting of the local vineyards. Of Byzantine origin, attractions to see include the octagonal “Tower of Dante”, the ruins of the Malaspina castle, the arcades of a fifteenth century aqueduct and the Alessandro Malaspina Research Centre. The neighboring villages of Castevoli, Lusuolo, Groppoli and Montereggio have further castles to explore and other attractions such as the eighth century Romanic Church of S. Martino, the medieval Monastery of the “Madonna del Monte” and the home of the original booksellers to whom the literary prize “Premio Bancerella” is dedicated (Montereggio).
Town dominated by the Brunella fortress (XV-XVI century), now seat of the Museum of Lunigiana Natural History (phone 0187 409077 ). In the surrounding area: the village of Bibola with its winding structure and with the ruins of an imposing castle (XII-XIII), and the walled medieval village Caprigliola with the cylindrical Tower (XII century).
It is surrounded by the walls of the village, where sea and mountains seem very close to each other, and is dominated by the Malaspina castle (XIV-XVII). To visit: the church of S. Remigio (1367) with its panoramic location. In the surrounding area: Caniparola and the Malaspina villa, Luni, Sarzana and Cinque Terre.
Is the beautiful and famous tourist resort of the Ligurian Riviera, which is situated in a picturesque bay in the Gulf of Tigullio and the tip Carega.Portofino has always been one of the favorite destinations for thousands of tourists, especially of well-known personalities from the world of culture and entertainment. Since 1995 Portofino figure among “The Jewels of Europe”, the club that brings together the most important tourist centers in Europe.
Forte dei Marmi
One of the most frequented seaside resorts of the Tirreno. Forte dei Marmi is built around a wharf constructed in the 16th century specially for the marble industry of that time and was protected by a small fortress built by Leopold I which can be found at the centre of Piazza Garibaldi. Aristocrats, diplomats, important businessmen, artists and famous people from all over the world have built beautiful villas immersed in the pine forest of Forte dei Marmi, and where the fine sandy beaches allow you to enjoy a relaxing holiday.
They are found in the Apuan Alps and are a spectacular and breathtaking sight. The extraction of this precious white marble goes back to Roman times. Since then it has been used in many different ways; from simple objects to the most famous works of art and architecture. In the past the marble blocks were transported using the ancient manual technique, the lizzatura, re-enforced every year thanks to the ability and courage of the last lizzatori. The history of marble workmanship can be seen in the various marble laboratories of Carrara and at the marble fairs.
Montemarcello is a splendid village which dominates La Spezia Gulf, the Versilia coastline and the mouth of the River Magra, all from the Caprione promontory. It is definitely one of the most spectacular views of the Liguria coast which at this point borders with Tuscany. It is not far from Carrara and when looking towards the East passed the Luni planes one has the impression of almost being able to touch the Apuan Alps and the white streaks of the marble caverns. The village owes its name to the Roman Console Claudio Marcello who in 155 BC defeated the Liguri Apuani inhabitants. The sensation one has of the Caprione area is that of travelling back in time through centuries and centuries of history. You can walk along the Roman road, to get to Bocca di Magra where you will find a beautiful Villa dating back to the IV century BC, or why not visit Luni with its archaeological site and Roman amphitheatre.
Equi Terme is an evocative villane situated in Tuscany at the foot of the steep slopes of the northern Apuan Alps and is protected by the Regional Park. Equi is a tourist location well-known for its thermal baths thanks to the sulphurous springs of water which possess multiple therapeutic qualities. The most enchanting phenomenon is the Buca and the Grotte of Equi, a vast karstic hypogeal complex formed throughout the millenniums by the erosion caused by the underground water flaws. The water has created fascinating cavities with tunnels and what can be called rooms full of stalagmites, stalactites etc.. which have been explored since the 18th century. Thanks to the intervention of the Council of Fivizzano and the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps, the back part of the Grotte called The Buca can be visited by tourists by undergoing an easy 20 minutes walk which guide you through very interesting tunnels and cavities of great interest.