January 14th , 2010 → 4:20 am @ admin

CastiglioneOver 100 castles dot the Lunigiana landscape, made up of three valleys cut by rivers. Pristine medieval villages are tucked into hillsides, providing the perfect stop off points amidst the abundant hiking trails in the woods and along the ridge tops.

Pontremoli – once one of the richest and most powerful of Lunigiana cities, Pontremoli stands at the confluence of the Magra and Verde Rivers. Positioned at the door to Tuscany, it was also open to sieges. During the middle ages Pontremoli was host to a fierce rivalry between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, so a wall was built dividing the city in two by Castruccio Castracani, conqueror of the Lunigiana, hoping to create a little peace. Visit Pignaro Castle, home of the Museum of Statue-Menhirs.

Festivals: Fourth Sunday in July, the Bancarella literary award in honor of the street book-traders in the Pontremoli area.

Filattiera – Filattiera has been known since Roman times, where it was an important junction between Luni, Lucca, and northern Italy. It was the centre of fortifications that protected the important port of Luni from Longobardi attacks.

Bagnone – Bagnone is one of the prettiest villages in the center of Lunigiana. Topped by a fortress with the typical round tower of Lunigiana, the castle began to lose its defensive function when Bagnone became part of the Florentine republic in 1471. During the renaissance the city expanded with many fine palaces, churches, and squares. From the lower town, take the bridge and walk up to the castle.  Afterwards you can stop in the village below to have a bite to eat while enjoying the view.

Villa FrancaVillafranca – The Malaspina castle was destroyed by bombing during the second world war.  At the nearby Byzantine town of Filetto, built to the square plan of a Roman Castrum, the first and second Sundays of August are devoted to a host of medieval cultural events featuring medieval banquets and people in traditional costume.

Tresana – In the town and in the environs are the abandoned and overgrown ruins of the Giovagallo castle, formerly the residence of the Alagia Fieschi (cited by Dante), and the Tresana Castle and borgo.

Podenzana – Here, along with Aulla, are pretty much the only two places where you can eat the traditional panigacci – traditional flatbreads – cooked over an open fire.

Aulla – Most of the town of Aulla was bombed during the second world war, and it is now somewhat of a hotch potch of traditional and modern buildings.  The Brunella fortress – now the Lunigiana Natural History Museum – stands high on a hill overlooking the town.

VerrucolaFivizzano – For almost four hundred years Fivizzano was titled the “corner of Florence” as a symbol of Florence’s domination of the region. Fivizzano was an epicenter of the Resistance in the Lunigiana, making it the scene of innumerable reprisals by Nazis and Fascists. Along with the earthquake of 1920, the 20th century has been a little rough of Fivizzano, but it remains one of the more interesting of Lunigiana towns. The Verrucola Castle is nearby.

Fosdinovo – A well-preserved fairytale castle, mentioned as early as 1084, rises majestically above the borgo below.  Although a private residence now, it adds charm to the wonderful medieval festivals held here during the summer.

Equi TermeEqui Terme – An interesting hamlet and portal to the Apuanian Alps Park. The prehistoric grottos and a spa are worth visiting.  The famous festival of presepi viventi – Living Nativity Scenes – held over the Christmas holiday is a wonderful experience.

Carrara – Although an industrial city devoted to marble, Carrara has many workshops and marble mills that are worth a visit.  La Lizzatura, the ancient marble quarrying festival, is held at the beginning of August in the town of Resceto.

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