If you wish to spend your Tuscany holidays and you are fond of nature, adventure, traditions and folklore, visit the magnificent Lunigiana and Garfagnana; you will be charmed by the endearing beauty of the Apuan Alps.
The Apuan Alps, The Lunigiana and The Garfagnana
The Lunigiana, The Land of the Moon, is part of the backcountry of Massa Carrara and owes its name to the ancient Roman town of Luni. The territory is vast and borders with the Emilia Romagna. Lunigiana’s history and traditions date back to thousands of years: the mysterious Statues Stele di Pontremoli, inside the Castello del Piagnaro, just witness it.
The Lunigiana is also a land of medieval villages and castles, such as the Castello di Malgrate in Villafranca; the Castello Malaspina in Fosdinovo; the Castiglione del Terziere; the Castello dell’Aquila in Gragnola (Fivizzano); the Fortezza della Brunella; the Castello della Verrucola; the Castello di Terrarossa; the Castello di Filattiera; the Castello di Lusuolo; the Castello Aghinolfi di Montignoso.
Many pilgrims used to cross the Lunigiana and the Via Francigena and the Via del Volto Santo, and used to stop in one of the numerous pieves along them and get some refreshment. You can visit these simple and peaceful Romanic pieves and enjoy their atmosphere. The most famous ones are the Abbazia di San Caprasio in Aulla, the Pieve dei Santi Cornelio and Cipriano in Codiponte, the Pieve di Santo Stefano of Sorano in Filattiera, the Pieve di San Paolo in Vendaso, the Pieve di Crespiano in Comano, the Pieve of Offiano a Casola in Lunigiana. Do not miss the villages of Ponticello, Filetto, Filattiera, Mulazzo, Bagnone and Montereggio.
The culinary tradition of this area offer succulent dishes such as testaroli and panigacci, but also homemade pasta with chestnut flour, topped with a simple butter and parmesan cheese sauce. Chestnuts have always been considered one of the main food and ingredients in this area, but cheese and honey are also worth a try.
The village of Fosdinovo is also noteworthy, not just for its beauty, but also for the aura of mystery around the astonishing fortress Malaspina. Futhermore, Dante is said to have spent part of his exile in this area.
An Adventure Park in Fosdinovo is the perfect place for your kids.
Bordering north and not too far from Lunigiana, this area is easily reachable from Camping Calatella in Marina di Massa, in the province of Lucca; the Garfagnana is rich in history and its beautiful landscape and the Lake of Vagli will charmi you; a “ghost” village is also said to have been swallowed by the Lake of Vagli.
You will love the village of Castelnuovo Garfagnana. More paths through the Apuan Alps and its chestnut woods are available here. Many places are waiting to be discovered: Careggine, Camporgiano, Castiglione di Garfagnana, Fosciandora, Gallicano, Giuncugnano, Minucciano, Molazzana, Piazza al Serchio, Pieve Fosciana, San Romano in Garfagnana, Sillano, Vergemoli and Villa Collemandina where you can find the Parco dell’Orecchiella, a great attraction both for adults and kids; this park is a bio reserve and there live many species of animals, such as wolves, eagles, deer, peregrine falcons, roe deer, buzzards and brown bears.
Culinary specialties of this area are mainly made of hulled wheat and chestnut flour, as long as chestnut trees are to be found almost anywhere; cheese and cold cuts are also worth to try.
Ludovico Ariosto was governor of Garfagnana on behalf of the Estensi family from 1522 to 1525.
The Apuan Alps
The Apuan Alps, a paradise for nature lovers, are very close to the Camping Calatella in Marina di Massa and connect the province of Massa Carrara to the province of Lucca.
Rich in itineraries and breath-taking panoramas, you can choose whether you wish to follow one of the numerous paths and get to one of the tops of these mountains, or if you prefer getting inside their womb, entering their caves.
The Grotta del Vento and the Antro del Corchia are natural masterpieces, worth a visit. Choose the official paths, the ones marked by CAI; if you are a professional hiker, you can opt for the Vie ferrate: among the highest peaks are the ones of Monte Pisanino (1947 meters) and of the Pizzo d’Uccello (1782 meters); on the side of Carrara, the Monte Sagro is the most renowned of the Apuan Alps and represents one of the best viewpoints too reach, especially for those who love hiking. Climbing Monte Sagro is not too difficult and it is accessible to amateurs as well.
Lose yourself in the paths of the Apuan Alps, it is easy and safe and allow you to discover excellent itineraries and amazing uncontaminated landscapes. The flora and fauna of the wonderful Park of the Apuan Alps is extremely varied and it is waiting for you.
The CAI path number 35, better known as Via Vandelli, is a must for the hikers who wish to cross the Apuan Alps; the path, also caled Via della Tambura, takes its name from the Monte Tambura, on the Massa’s side.
The unusual Monte Forato, on the other hand, is part of the Pania, more precisely of the Group of the Panie, on the Lucca’s side.
The Apuan Alps also offer many different itineraries, perfect for a horseback ride or by Mountain Bike.