Lunigiana, from the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines to the sea, is a land to travel, discover and enjoy if you want to live a quality holiday in close contact with nature. Along the Via Francigena, which was for centuries one of the most ancient routes (mentioned for the first time in 994 by the archbishop of Canterbury Sigerico) covered by pilgrims, merchants and armies to reach Rome, there are several traces of this passage with castles, parish churches and walled villages which characterize still today this intact, natural and almost impregnable landscape. Castles and ancient castles in ruins, parish churches and Romanesque churches, medieval villages and aristocratic buildings follow one another all over Lunigiana between history and hospitality, arousing strong emotions. Summer and winter sporting facilities, hydrotherapy, walking tours and speleological excursions, mixed with folklore and local traditions are the elements enriching the tourist attractions present in this piece of land close to the mountains and to the see, between Cinque Terre in Liguria and the art cities in Tuscany, surrounded by an intact and uncontaminated nature.
Pontremoli: northern gate of Lunigiana and typical medieval town, was developed by the union of many houses around its castle. The Piagnaro Castle is situated on the top of a hill above the Cisa main road, it has recently been totally restored and hosts the Museum of the Statue Stele. The castle and the characteristic houses of the town are positioned in such a way that they seem to defend the historical centre, which is closed off on the north side by Porta Parma and on the south side by the confluence of the two rivers Magra and Verde. The borough hosts numerous monuments such as the Cathedral of S. Maria del Popolo (seventeenth century) with its baroque interior, the bell-tower Campanone, the tower of the old city walls which devided Guelphs and Ghibellines, the Church of S. Colombano and the Church of S. Pietro with its Labyrinth of the Pilgrim sculpture, the Church of SS. Annunziata, built in 1471. The Caveau del Teatro is at the centre of this small pearl of Lunigiana, facing the baroque work-of-art of the Church of Nostra Donna and of the Teatro della Rosa, one of the first theatres in Italy recently restored and full of rich baroque interiors. The town of Pontremoli hosts the Bancarella Prize, a famous literary prize held once a year on the third Sunday of July.
Filattiera: ancient Ligurian-Apuane settlement; medieval capital of the Malaspina dello Spino Fiorito. To visit: Church of S. Giorgio with Leodgar’s gravestone and medieval defence tower of the fifteenth century castle. At the foot of the village, the Parish Church of Sorano (dating from the eighth to the tenth century) important example of Romanesque Art. In the outskirts: Ponticello, small and dainty, a jewel in its own right; Caprio, interesting hamlet with ruins of tower-houses.
Bagnone: this village is characterized by a castle, built on the top of a hill, and by its houses, built at the foot of the hill. To visit: the Marquis’s castle with cylindrical tower (fourteenth century), frequent in many castles of Lunigiana. In the outskirts: hamlet and the castle of Castiglione del Terziere (for information contact +39 0187 429010), (eleventh century); Jera, small village in the mountains that offers wonderful views. Villafranca in Lunigiana, hamlet with shop signs and structures of the ancient workshops. To visit: the Church of S. Nicolò (twelfth century); Ethnographical Museum of Lunigiana which hosts treasures of the rural local culture (for information +39 0187 439417). In the outskirts: Filetto, enclosed hamlet of Byzantine origin which maintains a quadrangular aspect of the Roman “Castrum”; Malgrate: medieval hamlet with Malaspinian castle (dating from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century) dominated by a cylindrical tower and protected by a walled enclosure.
Mulazzo: hamlet of Byzantine origin which became the capital of the Malaspina dello Spino Secco. To visit: octagonal tower, known as “The Tower of Dante” (where Dante Alighieri was once hosted by the Malaspina family), ruins of the Malaspinian castle (dating from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century), imposing arcades of the ancient aqueduct (fifteenth century); Alessandro Malaspina Research Centre, a sixteenth century navigator (for information contact +39 0187 439712). In the outskirts: on the road to Gavedo, home of a sixteenth century castle, stands the ancient Romanic Church of S. Martino (eighth century); Montereggio, another picturesque and characteristic village, is plunged in the chestnut woods and is country-home of the errant booksellers; finally the medieval Monastery of the “Madonna del Monte” and its famous fourteenth century icon of Mary.
Fivizzano: aristocratic town in the east of Lunigiana. After the domain of the Malaspina it became part of the Florentine Republic. To visit: the ancient Medici walls, the historical centre with its main square and Medici fountain, the Oratory of S. Carlo (seventeenth century), fine example of baroque architecture, Church of Saints Jacopo and Antonio (fourteenth century): medieval font representing the religious symbol of the Cavalieri del Tau, the Convent of S. Agostino (fourteenth century); Convent of Carmine. In the outskirts: castle and hamlet of Verrucola; Frignoli Botanical Garden (for information contact 0585 949688); Parish Church of S. Paolo: Parish Church of Vendaso (dating from the eighth to the twelfth century); Gragnola and the Castle of the Aquila; Arlia and its ancient mill (for information contact +39 0187 422598). Equi Terme, ancient hamlet set in front of the Apuane Alps. To visit: Caves of Equi (for information contact 0585 942122), speleological tour, thermal baths (for information contact 0585 949300) with beneficial sulphureous springs; Natural Regional Park of the Apuane Alps (meeting point 0585 97544). Cross over Equi and you will arrive at the ancient route that leads to the Marble Quarries. In the outskirts: Vinca renowned for its famous bread.
Villafranca in Lunigiana: this village shows signs and facilities of the ancient craft shops. To visit: the church of S. Nicolò (XII century), the Ethnographic Museum of Lunigiana with the heritage of the local rural culture (for info: phone 0187 439417). In the surrounding area: Filetto, walled village of Byzantine origin having still the quadrangular shape of the Roman “Castrum”, and Malgrate, medieval village with Malaspina castle (XIII-XVII century), dominated by a cylindrical tower and protected by castle walls.
Aulla: 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 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).
Comano: the Malaspina castle (XI-XIII century) lies in the middle of this attracting landscape and is dominated by an imposing circular tower. In the surrounding area: the parish church of Crespiano (XI century) where the bell tower is the only remnants.
Casola in Lunigiana: it is the gate of Lunigiana to the park of Apuan Alps, with several Medieval remains on its territory. To visit: the cylindrical tower (XI-XV century), the territorial museum of Aulella high valley (phone 0585 90361) with a collection or prehistoric remains (phone 0585 90361). In the surrounding area: the parish churches of Codiponte and Offiano, ancient walled villages.
Fosdinovo: it is surrounded by the walls of the village, where sea and mountains seem very close to each other, and 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.
Licciana Nardi: in this territory you can admire a homogeneous system made of castles, parish churches, towered houses and walled villages, which represent the fortified control network established by Malaspina family. The village, rich in decorated portals, develops along the main road closed by Malaspina castle-palace. In the surrounding area: the castles of Monti (XIII century), Bastia (XV century) and Terrarossa (XVI century), and the parish church of Venelia.
Cinque Terre: they form one of the most uncontaminated and largest Mediterranean areas in Liguria, land characterized by a wild and wonderful nature, still preserved as in the past. If you come to Cinque Terre, you will visit five villages between land and sea, located on sheer cliffs and surrounded by green hills, where inhabitants are still doing their best to face the difficulties presented by this territory, which however rewards their efforts offering excellent wines and products not to miss.