Lunigiana : The land of one hundred Castles
The castles were built by the oldest rich families, such as Malaspina, Medici and Estensi, who fought to get the control of this magical land. Among the most enchanting castles and fortresses you can visit, we suggest: Verrucola in Fivizzano; Piagnaro in Pontremoli; Monti, Bastia, Pontebosio e Terrarossa in Licciana Nardi area; Brunella Fortress in Aulla; in Malgrate, in Bagnone, in Lusuolo, in Villa di Tresana Castle and many others.
Along the old Pilgrims and merchants' roads you can visit typical medieval villages such as: Filetto, Malgrate, Bagnone, Filattiera, Mulazzo, Fivizzano, Pontremoli, Licciana, Villafranca rich of history and tradition.
Romanesque churches had been built to offer hospitality to Pilgrims on their way to Rome . These kind of churches are the symbol of Lunigiana religiosity and popular spirituality. Typical features of these “Pievi” are the capitels which are decorated with angels, monsters, sirens and flowers symbols. Nowadays you can visit thirteen Pievi in Offiano, Sorano, in San Paolo and in Codiponte.
The National Park of the Appennino Tosco Emiliano between Toscana and Emilia Romagna covers over 22.000 hectares and is rich of flora where many animals can find the right conditions to live. There are a lot of C.A.I. (Italian Alpine Club) trails to find contact with nature and enjoy breathtaking views.
The Regional Park of Alpi Apuane includes a large variety of mountain environment and the popular marble quarries.
The Apuan Alps represent one of the must typical and original mountains areas of the Italian peninsula for the richness of the environments and landscapes that they contain.
Along Apuan Alps paths it is possible to practice trekking, mountaineering, climbing and mountain biking.
The “Statue Stele” are stone sculptures whose first specimens were made around the 3rd millennium BC. These anthropomorphic statues represent stylized men with daggers and spears and women with ornaments; the function of these stone monuments is still a mystery, but the scholars think that they are representation of deities or heroized ancestors, with a propitiatory purpose towards the community. In the Piagnaro Castle in Pontremoli, there is the Museum of Stele Statues which is the most representative in Italy for the number of specimens collected and for the documentation on the tempering sites, the raw material used and the processing techniques.
Natural History Museum in Aulla
In Aulla in the Brunella Fortress which is a marvelous example of military architecture dating back to the first half of the 16th century, there is a Natural History Museum offering a complete and innovative description of the Lunigiana landscape iInside the castle's cistern there is a beautiful aquarium and inside the halls there is a unique library named 'Nature Library' dedicated to Lunigiana landscapes.
The Ethnographic Museum of Lunigiana in Villafranca in Lunigiana
The Ethnographic Museum of Lunigiana is situated in a complex of historical buildings including the ancient mills of the village of Villafranca, in the northern area and close to the ancient bridge over the Bagnone stream. This museum collects the materials related to chestnut, milk and hemp processing activities, weaving of the wicker, winemaking, processing of wood, iron, stone plus the original equipment of the mill and millstones.
Equi Terme is a charming village situated at the bottom of the fabulous Apuan Alps and it is famous for its thermal spa with sulphureous water and for tourist caves surrounded by an enchanting karstic sites.
Karst and Paleontological Complex of the Caves of Equi comprises the caves, areas of naturalistic interest, and the archaeological Tecchia where the bones of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus), that lived in Europe during the Pleistocene and became extinct about 24,000 years ago during the Last Glacial Maximum, had been found.
Carrara Marble Quarries
The marble quarries are something unique and inimitable. They are considered the largest marble basin in the world set in the chain of the Apuan Alps. The marble deposits are found in the three main valleys behind the town of Carrara: Colonnata, Miseglia and Torano. Quarries are places where excavation and marble processing have been taking place for many centuries and can be of two types: closed and open. The Carrara marble quarries were already exploited more than 2000 years ago, in fact the Carrara marble has always been very famous for its statuesque qualities and used by the most famous sculptors of the world (Michelangelo, Canova, etc.) . Among the many quarries in operation, some are open to the public and can be visited by tourists: the Fantiscritti quarry, an immense amphitheater dug in the heart of the mountain of marble and the quarry of the Piana, the place that, according to tradition, inspired Dante Alighieri some visions of Hell and the Colonnata marble basin which is characterized by the presence of some of the most important and famous quarries, but also for the famous “lardo di Colonnata”, a unique gastronomic specialty known all over the world.