Nella biografia di Dante, Boccaccio narra il suggestivo episodio di come il poeta, in partenza per la Francia, avesse affidato ad un monaco di nome Ilario del monastero di Santa Croce del Corvo il manoscritto della cantica dell’Inferno affinché lo recapitasse a Uguccione della Faggiola.
Ameglia is a municipality in the province of La Spezia, located in Val di Magra, almost on the border with Tuscany.
It is entitled to be included among the beauties of the Eastern Liguria, thanks to its landscapes, the hills and the plains which have developed together with the wide fluvial areas and the quiet coasts; the hamlet is built around the castle and the circular tower, surrounded by a lush vegetation, clung to the top of a hill, with the promontory Carpione that protects its shoulders.
Ameglia overlooks the valley, the last stretch of the right bank of the River Magra, and the moorings of Bocca di Magra, a famous place among yachtsmen.
Where the mountains meet the sea, in an area of a few square kilometres, we find sandy beaches on the east side and steep cliffs overlooking the west, this peaceful place is called Punta Bianca.
The municipality includes four hamlets, to be precise Bocca di Magra, Cafaggio, Fiumaretta and Montemarcello.
Bocca di Magra is the most enjoyable of the four villages, it is located by the river, at the foot of Ameglia, in the 1950s it was a famous summer gathering place for writers and intellectuals such as Marguerite Duras, Albe Steiner and Italo Calvino.
Right in front of Bocca di Magra, we find Fiumaretta a charming seaside place, where we can discover beaches, often frequented by windsurf lovers.
Cafaggio is located in between and has traces of its ancient necropolis, dating to the age of iron, last but not least Montemarcello, a fortified little village of Roman origins, located in the heart of Mount Carpione.
Ameglia borders to the north and east with the municipality of Sarzana, to the south with the Ligurian Sea and to the west with Lerici.
The whole territory is part of the Natural Regional Park of Montemarcello Magra.
The historic centre of Ameglia can be visited entirely on foot, there is the parish church of Saints Vincenzo and Pasquale and the seventeenth century oratory of N.S. Assunta. You must pay a visit to the castle, an important episcopal property, excellently kept, that was once the premises of the town hall.
Bocca di Magra and Fiumaretta are by the river Magra, they both compete the first place for tourist offer, with hamlets like Cinque Terre; Bocca di Magra has also a dock for pleasure boats and charter services.
Montemarcello can be reached also from Ameglia, by bike, but it is located up hill.
If Ameglia does not skimp as scenic effect, in Montemarcello the echo of medioeval achievements is even more marked: it is not by chance that the village obtained an award in 2007 as one of the most beautiful villages of italy.
An ideal gathering place of this village, a sort of Roman castrum, is Piazza XIII Dicembre, during the summer it is liven up by concerts and enternaining activities.
A bit of history...
Ameglia boasts with pride, the typical Medioeval origins of a hamlet of the Magra Valley. Its history, however is very ancient and dates back to the fourth century B.C., there is evidence of its past, thanks to a necropolis in Cafaggio and to some objects found; a proof that the village was an important maritime trade centre, as well as it traded in the Apuan Alps. It was a strategic place and a port in Roman times, there are traces of its past, in a maritime villa in Bocca di Magra. Its name probably comes from the old road via Aemilia.
In Middle Ages, Ameglia gained fame, and was mentioned as an episcopal property of Luni, it was also chosen as episcopal premises, that is why its city walls were fortified and built up.
In 1441, the feud was purchased by the town of Genoa, then sold to the Fieschi family, from Lavagna. It was occupied for a short period by Oberto Doria and Oberto Spinola, then in 1284 the village and the territory of Ameglia became property of the bishops of Luni. During the thirteenth century its defensive walls, the port and the tower of the castle were built up.
In 1321 captain Castruccio Castracani, handed the territory to the lords of Lucca, then after some years, Ameglia was disputed by local important families Doria, Viscont and Fregoso. The village obtained a sort of administrative stability during the second half of the sixteenth century, when Genoa included the feud of Ameglia in the captaincy of Lerici. Under the rule of Napoleone Bonaparte, the village became part of the Department of the Gulf of Venus, with La Spezia as admistrative seat, of the Ligurian Republic.
From 28 April 1798, the village was part of the third canton, as administrative seat of the Jurisdition of Lunigiana, and from 1803 as main centre of the second canton of Carpione in the jurisdiction of the Gulf of Venus.
After the Congress of Vienna, from 1859 to 1927, the territory was part of the Eastern second district of Lerici, at first as part of the province of Genoa, then in 1923 of the provice of La Spezia.
In 1939 Tellaro was included in the territory of Lerici. The latest modifications to this area date back to 1969, when part of the territory of Lerici was included in Ameglia.
At present Ameglia has a great importance as seaside tourist centre, and has also excellent mooring and rent services for pleasure boats. There is a wide offer that does not include just the nautical sector, as Fiumaretta and the nearby beaches, provide advanced tourist services at a very short distance from great important areas such as Luni and the Gulf of Poets. Ameglia gave birth to famous people such as Agostino Paci, an eclectic and brilliant surgeon, and Ennio Silvestri, a history and archeology expert, one of the most important academics of the history of Lunigiana.
The whole territory of the municipality of Ameglia is part of the Natural Regional Park of Montemarcello-Magra, established in 1995, from the union of the Fluvial Park of Magra, established in 1982, and the Protected Area of Montemarcello, established in 1985, which has a great variety of landascapes. There are three main areas, the fluvial area, originated by floods deposits, full of marshy coves, small lakes and shiny ponds, it is populated by birds of all kinds, that come here to build their nest, then the hilly area of Mount Carpione, with its steep cliffs and gravel beaches on the east side; and finally the cost that goes beyond the border with Tuscany up to Versilia.
All three areas are not far from the river Magra.
It is useless talking about the great variety of flora of the territory of Ameglia, willow trees and reeds give way to pine groves, holm oak woods, short bushes and wild herbs. The terraced filled with majestic olive trees do not take the thunder away from the coloured Mediterranean maquis, here we can find some Ligurian protected species such as white rockroses, tazetta daffoldies and many wild orchids.
The valley of the river Magra attracts birds from half Europe, the best periods to see them are spring and autumn, but you can enjoy your afternoons in any season, waiting to hear coots singing or following the very close flights of the kingfishers.
A good sign of its healthy nature is the presence of many night birds of prey, among which there are horned owls and barn owls.
In the woods of Saint Genisio, in Arcola, you will find the LIPU Oasis (Lega Italiana Protezione Animali) an important landmark created to help and improve environment topics and get accustomed to local birds habits.
On the top of Mount Murlo, at 300 metres above the sea level, we find the Botanical Garden of Montermarcello, which is part of a net of Botanical vegetable gardens, flower gardens and nurseries of the protected areas of the Region Liguria, it is a charming place thanks to its views of the Apuan Alps and of the mouth of the river Magra. The area has remarkable, precious flora. The aim of the Botanical garden is to promote and add value to the existing flora of Caprione, creating a unique guided path, divided into different sections.The coast in Fiumaretta, shows an uncommon feature, rare to find on the eastern coast, it has sandy beaches that look like the ones in Versilia.
The lack of strong sea currents and the wind, are ideal for those who want to try sailing or kite surf.
Very steep and rough is the landscape of Punta Corvo, the place is surroounded by pine groves, junipers and euphorbias.
Its free beach is a stretch of dark pebbles, about a hundred metres long; to reach it you have to go down the 700 steps that connect it to the village of Montermacello.
From Bocca di Magra, the first small beach that we bump into is Punta Bianca on the southern part of Caprione, so called due to the thick layer of limestone, typical of the area.
Punta Bianca, with its big rocks can be reached, following a path for about thirty minutes, that passes Montemarcello and then goes down towards the sea, among Mediterranean maquis and WWII bunkers, finally reaching the shore.
Places of interest
An interesting place to visit in Ameglia is located right in the centre, it’s the parish church of Saints Vincenzo and Anastasio, it was built in the fith century on the remains of an ancient church, the building looks modern, the facade has grey stones, and a magnificent rose window, plus a marble bas rilief on the main portal.
The church is divided into three aisles and has a big presbitery, inside the church there are some important paintings, among which a painting by Francesca Martelli Prandini dated 1677, depicting a Virgin with child and the saints Lorenzo, Giovannino and Apollonia. Of particular interest is a triptyque dated 1527 by Domenic Gar, depicting the Saints Vincenzo, Rocco and Sebastino and a lunette with Annunciation.
In Cafaggio, we must mention the ancient necropolis, a cemetery that belonged to the Ligurian Apuans, who traded with Etruscans and Celts, and had an important role in the events linked to the town of Luni, which is one of the most important archeological sites in Liguria. The necropolis has 54 graves made of lithic boxes, schist slabs, from the near Corvo promontory. Inside the urns are the remains of the ashes of the deceased and their goods, bowls, weapons and other objects indicating their social status.
The cemetery dates back to IV century B.C., not far from here, we have evidence of a Roman colony founded in 177 B.C. The necropolis was discovered and explored in 1976.
In Bocca di Magra, going towards Montemarcello, you must pay a visit to the monastery of Santa Croce del Corvo, devoted to the Discalced Carmelite fathers, it is located in the street that bears the same name. It became famous thanks to the memoirs of Dante and Boccaccio. The building is now the premises of Centro Lunigianese di studi Danteschi, and is used as a place for spiritual relax, and welcome place with some houses located in the park.
The chapel of the monastery hosts a famous Romanic crucifix, called “Cristo Nero” – Black Christ, of great dimensions, the clothing and looks are oriental, it is one of the most important in Liguria and Europe in its kind. Its story is linked to the relics of the very precious blood that is kept inside the co cathedral of Sarzana.
A first monastery able to keep the precious crucifix was built around year 1000, on the promontory of Santa Croce by the bishop Pipino of the diocese of Luni. During the fourteenth century the building was abandoned, it was only in the seventeenth century that the church was renovated, adding a cover of the apse, then the church was reopened. The whole area was improved with the construction of a small neogothic style castle, a second chapel and a majestic park.
The castle in Ameglia was a property of the bishops of Luni, perched on rocks just like the village, it is still in perfet conditions. Its walls, with many windows, are just one of the three walls that surround the residential area. The tower of the castle can also be visited, from here it is possible to enjoy a wonderful view, that goes from the mouth of the river Magra up to the buttress of the Apuan Alps.The tower near the castle has older origins, it was built between the tenth anf eleventh century as sighting tower.Inside the courtyard there is a wonderful rose garden and the typical central mosaic of the court, an area called “Fosso”.
The castle is at present the premises of the municipality and since 2012 hosts ceremonies, events,
Accommodation, tourism and events
On Sunday 15 May there is the celebration of the Patron Saint of Fiumaretta, Saint Isidoro, there is also a local market and entertainment.
Saint Pasquale is the Patron Saint of Ameglia and is celebrated every year on 17 May. Pro Loco and other local associations organize excursions in the Gulf of Poets.In summer there are also plays, music, art and craft events, in July there is a Pirat party, with typical food and wine tasting; young people, dressed in costumes liven up the village; in Bocca di Magra, In August there is Fiera d’Agosto, an intellectual festival created and handled by Alessandro Lana.
Centro Lunigianese di Studi Danteschi often organises, in honour of the supreme poet, prize giving and historic representations to remember the most important events of his life, when he stayed in Luni. You must stop in Mulazzo for information about possible events or at the Monastery of Santa Croce del Corvo.
L’Omo ar Bozo, is another important event of the area, it takes place the last sunday of Carnival, it is one of the oldest events in Italy linked to the festival, there are many artistic and musical events, but also food and folkloristic events in the village, to cheer children and adults. This event is not celebrated every year, you will find information at the town hall.
As tradition, the cuisine in this area has remained simple and genuine over the years, it stands out for the use of poor ingredients, often leftovers, but not less tasty.
Aromatic herbs and extra vergin olive oil are the main dressings, red meat is often replaced by fish, daily catch. Inland there are big farms and rural activities that provide salami and cheeses rare to find elsewhere, such as the cooked shoulder from Filattiera, mortadella from Lunigiana, caciotta and pecorino cheese at 0 km.
Honey, fruit and mushrooms, above all porcino mushrooms, are precious ingredients for starters and platters. Tuscany and Liguria are so close that share part of their history, that’s why we find common dishes such as Panigacci from Podenzana, farinata from Sarzana can be found in many bakeries. It is baked in the oven, its main ingredients are chickpeas flour, water, olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper; talking about desserts there is a soft cake called buccellato and the sweet rice cake, made with anise typical from Vezzano Ligure.
Other typical products of the Magra Valley are Testaroli, a sort of non leavened dough cooked in “testi”,then boiled in hot water and served with pesto sauce, olive oil and parmigiano cheese or meat sauce.
We start describing the list of main courses with the famous Mesciua, a soup made of chickpeas, cannellini beans, lentils, wheat, hulled wheat, seasoned with a lot of extravergin olive oil, salt and pepper. An old story tells that women in La Spezia, used to pick up the grains left on the docks while the goods where loaded or unloaded. Trenette with pesto sauce, Tagiain ai Fasei (beans) or with chestnuts, seasoned with the famous basil sauce, pesto, pasta with anchovies; Capponada, served with dry bread dipped in water and vinegar, add some salty anchovies, tomatoes, basil, onions, capers and a bit of chilly pepper, complete the list of dishes.
Fish dishes are countless, and each, often has simple local differences, depending on where it is made.
Fried food and fried catch of the day go strong in restaurants, groupers and sea breams are cooked in salt or baked in foil. A recipe that we suggest to try is the mullet fillet with Vermentino grapes, wrapped in vine leaves and baked in a pot.
The salads you can find in Punta Bianca, might deceive you, they have nothing to do with vegetables, they are made with mussels, bread dipped in milk, chopped pickels and a mix of scented herbs from the kitchen garden. You will often find, among the favourite fish dishes of the eastern Liguria and Ameglia, anchovies, cod or mussels picked in the fish farms, you can eat them stuffed, stewed or cooked in a pan with various ingredients. Another particular dish that can be found in restaurants, located on the coast from Tellaro to Bocca di Magra, are stewed squids with chard, called Seppie in Zimino, a perfect bond between the dry land and sea rich in fish.
Squids are sliced then cooked with boiled chard or spinach, served with toasted bread and white wine.
As regards second courses, if we talk about meat, we must mention stewed or fried rabbit, “chicken alla Cacciatora”, stewed tripe, kidney cooked in a pan with extra vergin olive oil, garlic and parsley and stuffed cima, a meat pocket from the Genoese cooking tradition. There are few traditional cakes, such as puddings, prepared with eggs, milk, sugar and cooked in a bain marie, or castagnaccio made of chestnut flower, pine seeds, sultana, water and olive oil, another excellent cake is Spongata from Sarzana, a very rich cake made of candied fruit, jam and dried fruit.
The right wines to accompany your dishes are the white ones; dry white D.O.C. Cinque Terre, or Levanto produced in Levanto’s valley or Vernaccia wine from Corniglia. In the Val di Magra both white and red wines are produced, well appreciated are the grapes from Arcola, Colli di Luna and Sarzana area.
Real Estate market
The territory of the Municipality of Ameglia is located in Val di Magra on the Ligurian border with Tuscany, it includes apart from the administrative centre and its historic area, Bocca di Magra, Fiumaretta, and last but not least the charming hamlet of Montemarcello, all these places are so different from one another, but at the same time very fascinating.
The territory is crossed by the river Magra, that represents an important resource for pleasu-re crafts and for tourism, in fact the mouth of the river Magra welcomes thousands of tourists from all over the world, every year.
From this area, it is easy to reach Versilia, the wonderful Apuan Alps, well known for its mar-ble quarries, the Cinque Terre and Lerici.
The landscapes on the coast are rich in features, we can find big, equipped sand beaches that gently reach the sea or rocky coasts so typical in Liguria.
Our territory can be easily reached by motorway, so it is a valuable choice for real estate in-vestments.
There are many different properties, at interesting prices.
At present the prices of the real estate market in the Municipality of Ameglia, as well as in the rest of Italy have decreased by 30%, and vary according to the location, the dimensions and the conditions; prices go from a minimum of € 1.500,00/sqmt for properties to renovate, € 2.500,00/sqmt for avarage properties and a maximum of € 4.000,00/sqmt for properties with sea view, an outdoor and luxury finishes.