Lunigiana and Garfagnana
tretching beyond the Apuna Alps, Lunigiana, named after the moon, is a magnificent land with a rich history and many traditions.
The medieval itineraries of Via Franchigena cross Lunigiana following the river Magra; rverywhere today, you can still see the signs of its ancient and intense civilization, wellpreserved in the fascinating Appennine valley of lush nature. The hotel facilities include farm holidays offering excellent services and immersed in greenery.
Along the Via Francigena itinerary, but also in the minor valleys, countless signs evoke life in the past the austere shapes of dozens and dozens of castles, medieval walled villages, fine urban buildings and villas, towers and fortifications of all kinds, Romanesque parish churches, and small country churches…stele statues and stone idols that date back to 2000 years BC, all bearing mysterious witness to this ancient civilization.
Overhung by the high crests of the Tuscan-Emilian Appenines – recently recognized as a National Park – Lunigiana has an uncontaminated nature to be experienced at first hand: on foot through centuries-old chestnut woods or on the appenine crests, by mountain-bike or on horseback in the meadows of mountains pastures, in a canoe or with a fishing-rod in the rivers, torrents and gorges. In the broad chestnut and beech woods or in the bilberry-covered meadows, it is not unusual to come across goats and squirrels, or catch sight of falcons and golden eagles in the sky.
Folklore, Gastronomy, Wellness
This land that lies between sea and mountains offers a great variety of traditions: you might enter a village and be carried away by an atmosphere that is strictly medieval – from the dishes to the customs and from the street performers to the street – traders.
You might try dishes based on chestnuts or cooked in “testi” as they were a thousand years ago in the Lunigiana inns. Or you might try the fresh fish cooked in the restaurants by the sea, washed down with “Candia” wine from the Apuan hills.
It is also possible to devote some time to physical wellbeing in the renowned mineral waters which spring from the Apuan Alps, or at the spas of St. Carlo and Equi Terme.
In the far northern area of the Tuscan Region there lies a valley, rich in history and traditions that is very close to famous and important historical centres such as Lucca, Pisa and Florence.
This valley, created by the Serchio River and its tributaries, is a chest full of natural treasures enclosed between the chain of the Apuan Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines.
The contrast between these two environments, not only morphologically, but socially and traditionally different as weil, has generated an unusual variety of images and colours.
This is the ideal environment for those who want to live in contract with nature and at the same time rediscover the history of a valley and the traditional hospitality of its inhabitants.
Discovering Garfagnana on horseback, on foot, by mountain-bike, proceeding along the paths and old muletracks, and looking at the history of these mountains.
The Garfagnana Valley area is particulary famous for the superb quality of its wild berries, its mushrooms, as well as wines and olive oil from the hills surrounding Lucca.Tuscany’s internationally famous Chianti wine completes this offer.
Spelt wheat is an ancient cereal. It was a preferred dish of the ancient Romans, who even used it to nourish their legions. A cereal that has pratically disappeared, spelt has survived in Garfagnana, where it is polished in ancient stone mills. This local wheat possesses characteristic qualities that other types of spelt do not have.
It is frequently used to make a wonderful thick soup, which is also particularly wholesome, and unique salty savoury pies.
Today, thanks to the health food, vegetarian cuisine and macrobiotic food boom, this product is becoming marc and marc popular outside ot its native land. Like all genuine products, as it is a crop that is strictly linked to man’s relationship with his land, even the origin of spelt had to be guaranteed and protected. This is exactly what the Comunità Montana delta Garfagnana has tried to bring about: first obtaining the “Indicazione Geografica Protetta” (Geografic Mark of Origin) and then setting up its own control and promotion committee.
This and other activities make up a vaster strategy intended to augment the typical productions and protect the consumer.
Grotta del Vento
At the “Grotta del Vento”: stalactites, flows, alabaster hangings and stalagmites can be admired walking along a safe path which climbs up the steep walls, passes over crystal clear pools and follows the course of an underground stream.
There are five different itineraries to choose. They vary from a minimum of one hour (the first itinerary) to a maximum of three hours (the complete tour; the longest in Europe for lenght of time).
At the ticket office: bar, restaurant, tourist information, a large shop that seils mineral and fossil collector pieces, post-cards, printed material and slides.
The Vagli Lake