Val di Magra is a melting pot of many different cultures. The area is surrounded by Liguria and Tuscany. Its incredibly varied landscape is characterized by the presence of rivers, mountains and areas by the sea side.
In the nearby areas there are some well known locations, which are also major tourist attractions like Cinque Terre or Versilia and other spectacular locations like the marble rocks of Carrara and Garfagnana.
The Val di Magra (Magra Valley) is rightly dubbed a "boundary region", because its two provinces belong to two different regions: La Spezia is in Ligury, while Massa-Carrara belongs to Tuscany.
However, Val di Magra has also its own cultural and historical identity and independent feel its inhabitants.
By Val di Magra it is usually meant the area of the Magra River and of its tributaries, a region partly coinciding with the Lunigiana, historical region occupied by old Luni's diocese.
The Magra river shaped this land and is thus a common feature in a great variety of landscapes: going up the river one goes from Ameglia, old medieval village near the sea, to Pontremoli, elegant little town up in the mountains.
From the rocky cost of Ligury, or from the flat Tuscan beaches, one can quickly reach the Appennini and the jagged peaks of Alpi Apuane, travelling through green plains rich in old castles and in medieval towns.
Most of the centres are located along the Magra River, which is a great resort for fishing and can be explored by boat.
The whole valley is a wonderful, variegated countryside rich in gardens, olive trees and pine-trees (in the plains), oaks, chestnuts and ash-trees (on the mountains); it offers a chance for living in a green and uncontaminated nature, between the sea and the mountains.
Sitting on a hilltop, this ancient medieval village has remained unchanged despite the passage of time. From this position on high, it oversees the final stretch of the Magra river and its surrounding lowlands.
The Ameglia municipality encompasses a territory in the lower part of the Val di Magra valley, which is the part of La Spezia's province situated on the border with the region of Tuscany.
The area boasts a wide variety of natural beauty, beginning with its river areas.
Then there is the coast, characterised eastwardly by long sandy beaches, and contrasted to the west by steep rocky cliffs which peak out over the sea. Surrounded by the luxurious natural framework of the Caprione promontory, here one may find ancient medieval towns and enchanting tourist attractions up and down the coast.
The town of Fiumaretta is located right in front of Bocca di Magra, on the left shore of the Magra river.
This attractive seaside resort is a flourishing holiday spot where both seascape and riverfront intermingle almost as one and the fine, firm sand of the inviting beach stretches out ahead. Fiumaretta's ideal visitor is surely the water-sports enthusiast, as its notable wind exposure makes it the premier location for sailors and windsurfers in particular.
Castelnuovo Magra is an ancient village situated in a dominant and panoramic position on Monte Bastione.
As soon as one arrives in the village, the first thing one notes is the imposing facade in Renaissance style of the Oratorio dei Bianchi (1500).
Then, climbing for a few metres, one arrives at the Church dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene. Inside the church, in late Renaissance style, there are works of art of great value, including sculptures in marble created by marble artisans from Carrara and ancient bas-reliefs.
In the old area of the village, in the piazza of the Town Hall, there are the remains of the castle belonging to the count-bishops of Luni. Today one can still see many traces of the walls, segments of the masonry of the castle and the rectangular tower, 80 m high, known as the Turris Magna.
Of particular importance are the Maestà, bas-reliefs in white marble; they have holy images and decorate the houses throughout the territory of the municipality. Also worthy of note are the palazzo Ingolotti Cornelio, the palazzo Tonarelli and the palazzo Ferrari-Natolini.
Fosdinovo is located in the lower part of the Val di Magra, in a strategic position dominating the roads linking the sea to the inland.
In fact, Fosdinovo was founded in the XIII century with the purpose of controlling trade through the Fauce Nuova pass, directed towards the rich northern plains of the Po river. Fosdinovo castle is still property of the Malaspina family, which spends here part of the summer holidays. The surrounding hills are green and uncontaminated; their woods are an ideal place for hikes and bike rides.
Different masters ruled Fosdinovo throughout the centuries; however, the ones that left deeper traces of their domination were the Malaspina. The castle, which still bears the name of the powerful family, was enlarged and restructured according to high military standards. The castle is open to the public and its rooms clearly shows the changes undergone throughout the centuries.
Noteworthy is also the "Oratorio dei Bianchi", built entirely in marble coming from the nearby Apuane. Next to it there is the church of San Remigio, founded over a big abbey that was once a marvel to the travellers coming to Fosdinovo. In the church is conserved Galeotto Malaspina's funerary monument, realised by some unknown, excellent Lombard sculptor.
Vezzano is in a strategic position: just above Sarzana, it attracted the attention of many local and foreign powers, which conquered the town and left traces of their dominion in Vezzano's churches and buildings.
Those who love history and culture will find Vezzano a perfect starting point for excursions in the area.
Starting from Vezzano Superiore (the higher part of Vezzano) it is possible to see the remains of a big medieval castle and the old belfry of Saints Siro and Prospero's church.
In the lower part of the town, the ancient structure of the village is revealed by a number of concentric narrow roads.