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Bagnone

 

“Contribuì generosamente alla guerra di liberazione con la partecipazione di molti suoi giovani ai primi nuclei partigiani, offrendo splendido esempio di spirito di sacrificio ed elette virtù civiche.” (1940 – 1945)

Bagnone
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The Upper Magra Valley is the backdrop to one of the oldest and most historically relevant municipalities within the Province of Massa Carrara: Bagnone. The village is such an iconic place surrounded by an indulgent nature and by myriads of stretches of water and bubbling waterfalls. Apart from representing a cornerstone in Tuscany’s culture, Bagnone has also legends and annals that are deeply linked to the splendours of Luni – Lunigiana is that historical-cultural region between Tuscany, Emilia and Liguria which the habitual readers are well familiar with.

Small and well protected, and built almost entirely of stone, with a humpback bridge that connects the upper part of the village with the lower part, which are respectively delimited by Porta della Dogana to the south and Porta della Gora to the northwest, Bagnone is wedged in the narrowest part of the slope, to the right of the homonymous stream after which it was named, and which is a tributary of the Magra.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Bagnone had a great importance thanks to its strategic position, since it was located at the exact intersection between communication routes of specific importance, such as the Via Francigena; in more recent times, we must consider its negligible distance from the junctions of the Passo della Cisa, as well as its altitude of almost two hundred and fifty metres, which is an ideal position in case of attacks. Also, from a “tourist” point of view, in the summer the weather is cool enough to allow you to enjoy majestic feasts without any regrets – the “testi” made of dough and the range of PDO products are waiting for you on such occasions.

Once in Bagnone, our eyes are drawn to the imposing frame of the castle, which today only survives through the cylindrical tower. The latter, which is well recognisable from a distance, is elevated so as to guard the village and the course of the Magra from its privileged position. Bagnone’s importance increased after the Supreme Poet stayed in the surrounding areas to write his “couple of lines”. Every year, the village attracts lovers of high altitude walks, trekking and kayaking. It’s also very close to Pontremoli and to the ancient Via del Sale (“Route of Salt”), where smugglers vere active during the ducal period. Typical elements are the tall houses and the buildings decorated with sandstone portals, or with references to the Tuscan Renaissance. Among the surrounding hamlets, we must mention Castiglion del Terziere, with its incredible castle, Treschietto and Iera, with its ruins of the Malaspinian manor houses and the leafy chestnut tree woods.

But there is more… In Pastina you can experience an always mysterious sacredness, Corlaga and Corvarola are also worth a visit. In Corlaga in particular you can take a tour through the beautiful water mills which grind the excellent chestnuts of the valley. The same centre of Bagnone, despite being small, hosts places of remarkable interest, such as the arcades of the old market or the Church of San Niccolò and the Parish of San Terenzio. Bagnone is part of the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and it is listed among the most beautiful villages in Italy. 

The Upper Magra Valley is the backdrop to one of the oldest and most historically relevant municipalities within the Province of Massa Carrara: Bagnone. The village is such an iconic place surrounded by an indulgent nature and by myriads of stretches of water and bubbling waterfalls. Apart from representing a cornerstone in Tuscany’s culture, Bagnone has also legends and annals that are deeply linked to the splendours of Luni – Lunigiana is that historical-cultural region between Tuscany, Emilia and Liguria which the habitual readers are well familiar with.

Small and well protected, and built almost entirely of stone, with a humpback bridge that connects the upper part of the village with the lower part, which are respectively delimited by Porta della Dogana to the south and Porta della Gora to the northwest, Bagnone is wedged in the narrowest part of the slope, to the right of the homonymous stream after which it was named, and which is a tributary of the Magra.

Bagnone

Throughout the Middle Ages, Bagnone had a great importance thanks to its strategic position, since it was located at the exact intersection between communication routes of specific importance, such as the Via Francigena; in more recent times, we must consider its negligible distance from the junctions of the Passo della Cisa, as well as its altitude of almost two hundred and fifty metres, which is an ideal position in case of attacks. Also, from a “tourist” point of view, in the summer the weather is cool enough to allow you to enjoy majestic feasts without any regrets – the “testi” made of dough and the range of PDO products are waiting for you on such occasions.

Once in Bagnone, our eyes are drawn to the imposing frame of the castle, which today only survives through the cylindrical tower. The latter, which is well recognisable from a distance, is elevated so as to guard the village and the course of the Magra from its privileged position. Bagnone’s importance increased after the Supreme Poet stayed in the surrounding areas to write his “couple of lines”. Every year, the village attracts lovers of high altitude walks, trekking and kayaking. It’s also very close to Pontremoli and to the ancient Via del Sale (“Route of Salt”), where smugglers vere active during the ducal period. Typical elements are the tall houses and the buildings decorated with sandstone portals, or with references to the Tuscan Renaissance. Among the surrounding hamlets, we must mention Castiglion del Terziere, with its incredible castle, Treschietto and Iera, with its ruins of the Malaspinian manor houses and the leafy chestnut tree woods.

But there is more… In Pastina you can experience an always mysterious sacredness, Corlaga and Corvarola are also worth a visit. In Corlaga in particular you can take a tour through the beautiful water mills which grind the excellent chestnuts of the valley. The same centre of Bagnone, despite being small, hosts places of remarkable interest, such as the arcades of the old market or the Church of San Niccolò and the Parish of San Terenzio. Bagnone is part of the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and it is listed among the most beautiful villages in Italy.

How to get here

BY AIR

The nearest airports to reach Bagnone are the usual ones in Pisa, San Giusto, Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa or Giuseppe Verdi in Parma. The latter is convenient if the route is to be continued by train and it offers several stopping points if you are travelling by car.

BY LAND

Bagnone can be easily reached through the A1; following, from the North, the direction of La SpeziaParma Ovest – it takes about 40 minutes to get here from La Spezia. Connection to Cisa A15, exit at Pontremoli and, having driven past some small towns, take the SP28 to reach Bagnone. Inveterate travellers may take the SS62 panoramic road of Cisa and skirt the villages: once past the SS62, you must take the aforementioned SP28 from Villafranca in Lunigiana or the SP30 from Filattiera, which joins the former crossing Mocrone and Malgrate. From the South, you will have to follow the directions for the A1 towards Livorno; then, you continue in the direction of Genoa, you connect to the A12 in the direction of Parma and, finally, you reach the A15 of the Cisa. Rail is another interesting option. Using La Spezia as a midpoint, regional trains depart quite often and, above all, direct connections allow you to reach your destination in just over half an hour. The designated station is Villafranca-Bagnone. The nearest station, which is an excellent stop-over, is that of Aulla Lunigiana. From Viareggio, Bagnone can be reached in about an hour through the regional train service of Ferrovie dello Stato. 

How to get around

The nature of the territory is essentially mountainous, dominated by the Apennine ridge. Bagnone is indeed located on a rocky spur, immersed in a dense forest of pines and oaks, with Mount Sillara shading the slope.The distinctive environment and the location of Bagnone contribute to make it one of the most evocative villages of the Upper Lunigiana, a land of historical, culinary and architectural excellence, a land of broad scope: summing it up, there are about twenty villages that dot the harsh hills of the territory.

Each tiny village clings to the long and narrow valley floor, which, from the Cisa Pass, reaches the first part of the river area excavated by the Magra. Past the entry gate of Bagnone, we are immediately in Piazza del Teatro Quartieri, a relatively recent square which, together with Piazza Roma, has a very central position and it’s therefore suitable for parking. Here you can enjoy sweet moments or have a coffee. At any time of the day, wandering through the streets of the village gives you the opportunity to enjoy a plenitude of panoramic views from different angles.

The medieval streets develop from the oldest inhabited point, which is fortified and located in an elevated position. Above it, the remains of the Malaspinian defensive structure, that is the castle, are the undisputed symbol of the village. Today, what remains of the castle is a single cylindrical tower crenellated with corbels. Far beyond the roofs of the houses and the streets of stone, which are one above the other, the religious buildings stand out. Gradually, going down a hypothetical hill, the houses below are embellished by arcades and portals, some even have the coats of arms of their respective houses from many centuries ago; it’s like some sort of spell has frozen them in time. The distinctive smell of freshly baked bread and that of wrought iron coming from the lively workshops mix with the brackish smell of the stream waters.

These are a constant auditory presence, but never in an annoying way, especially where the streets become wider and take the form of bridges. The main street of the village of Bagnone, which developed along the curves of the stream and descends from the modern centre, is Via della Repubblica, with a colonnade of great interest. Once we walk past this, we are on Ponte Nuovo, with its beautiful panoramic view of the stream. The nearby Via Nicolò Quartieri also tells us something about Bagnone’s past. Ponte Vecchio, the other fundamental bridge, is – as the name suggests – old but so far useful for its purpose; congested in the middle of the houses on the riverfront, this bridge looks like the protagonist of some historical adventure. Looking to the north, a couple of kilometres away, we can spot the hamlet of Corlaga. The neighbouring municipalities of Villafranca in Lunigiana, Filattiera and Licciana Nardi will have to be included in your tour. 

Food and Wine

Based on agriculture and essential ingredients, the cuisine of Bagnone turns out to be a relative of Lunigiana’s cuisine, based on poor dishes and ancient skills. Chestnuts and porcini mushrooms are picked in the woods; farming, which currently holds a certain importance, provides olives and vegetables; breeding is never intensive and the fine cold cuts are obtained from meat. Cheese accompanies the famous panigacci, which are stringy, tasty and genuine to the palate. Flours are mixed and the testi are used to prepare herb cakes, accompanied by a generous amount of potatoes.

How not to mention the pumpkin and leeks timbales, housewives and chefs with many years of experience cut soft strips of batter and then they fry them: there you have the sgabei, a sort of fried gnocco served as an appetiser. Bagnone is famous for the production of local products typical of the territory. The traditional dishes are the pattona, the testaroli, the exceptional focaccia served with the above mentioned cold cuts. The pattona and the marocca of Casola consist of bread prepared with chestnut flour; we can certainly say that here the chestnut tree is so important as to earn the name of “tree of bread”. Woods and scrubs cover almost two thirds of the territory, and if their potential had not been exploited, there would have been a negative impact on the economy.

Therefore, this choice ultimately turned out to be successful, guaranteeing the survival of several generations and, to this day, providing us, with a PDO product, namely the Lunigiana Chestnut Flour. Another record holder is the honey of Lunigiana, a forerunner and the first of its Italian “peers” to be awarded the PDO classification from the European Union. The area of production includes the fourteen Municipalities within the Lunigiana Mountain Community, where the first “Honey Road” was also traced. Here as well chestnuts are picked, the acacia is filtered, processed and sweetened with fine syrups. The timeless flagship product of Treschietto is the onion, with its fragrant and delicate taste, and which has been cultivated (and wisely used) for generations. Small and round, it should be eaten either raw or cooked. It has a distinctive pink colour and a sweet flavour. It enriches dishes between November and December.

Another excellence is the “barbotta”, crushed onions mixed with milk and corn flour. The most aged onions are “stuffed” with lean meat or filled with mortadella and parmesan. The local “onion soup” is excellent and generally, in the hinterland of Lunigiana, it is either served with slices of pecorino cheese or “smooth”, dipped in oil or served with salad. Among the most harmonious first courses, you will find the testaroli, the triumphant tortelli alla bagnonese (“Bagnone-style”).

The lasagne bastarde (“bastard lasagna”) will do your heart good, kneaded with white flour and chestnut flour, under a cascade of early mushrooms. The gnocchi mes’ci made with chestnut flour (well, really!) and sprinkled with Sardinian pecorino are a true triumph. But how can we forget about the rice bomb, a nourishing single dish, in the style of a meat quiche, which in our days has replaced pigeons with pork meat. As for second courses, pasture fed meat makes its beautiful appearance.

The Zerasca sheep breed provides us with lamb steaks, whose natural side dish are the potatoes of Zeri, both white and red, or yellow, also called “zale”. The latter is the smallest type and it is soft, sweet and tasty like the onion of Treschietto. Ducks and game are cooked faithfully following the precepts of the Malaspina period, when they were always present on tables laden with food in medieval taverns and cellars. Hare with blueberries, boar stew, tomaselle – rolls of pork with cheese and minced meat – spadellate alla Lunigianese (“Luingiana-style”), complete the picture.

In the kitchen, two cold cuts are always key players: the Mortadella of Lunigiana and the Spalla Cotta of Filattiera. The former needs to age for forty days, while the latter needs much more time. The Spalla, a distant cousin of cotechino, is served with green sauce or mashed potatoes.

In Lunigiana, desserts rise and become full-bodied, they brighten the days of celebration according to precise customs. The Spongata deserves a few words; the most famous version is the one of Pontremoli, which is served in the historic cafes of the town centre, along with the Amor, with wafer and cream filling.

On its part, the Colli di Luni DOC is a versatile and harmonious wine, perfect if accompanied by mixed cold cuts. Red or white, it has very ancient origins, so much so that the wines of Luni were known even by the historians of Ancient Rome. The Val di Magra I.G.T. shares the same ancient origins and its grapes are harvested between Pontremoli and Aulla. The liqueur dear to Fivizzano locals end in style: it’s the China Clementi, a tonic liqueur whose blend faithfully follows the one and only original recipe. 

Accommodation, tourism and events

Four uninterrupted days of dance, music, food and wine in different parts of the village make up “Bagnone in Festa”, a festival born in 2012 and designed to share sagas and local values with tourists. We must initiate you into the best culinary products of the area, and since it’s August wine and craft beer are guaranteed.

Every year, in April and May, the edition of the Sagra della Cipolla (“Onion Festival”) of Treschietto, with its stands and local products, cannot be missed. I

In July, in Fivizzano, there is the revival of the Challenge between the Archers of the Land and those of the Court. A competition between the village and the surrounding hamlets at the two far ends of the village; it was handed down by a certain Friar Tommaso from the order of Saint Augustine. You will be delighted by a dedicated parade and people dressed in sixteenth-century costumes and, as the great finale, an archery competition. The event reconstructs the scenery of the event with the utmost accuracy, including the flag-throwers. Also in Fivizzano, Sapori di Natale (“Christmas Flavours”) takes place in December, in the charming Piazza dei Medici.

 The Medieval Market of Filetto, scheduled in August, in the municipality of Villafranca. Every evening the event, organised by the Municipality and the Pro loco, features attractions and choreographies inspired by the recent past, with jesters and other typical figures of the Middle Ages. The market – exhibition welcomes visitors with stands full of local handicrafts. Sagra della Pattona, in Agnino, a village in the Fivizzano area, comes to an end right at the end of summer.

If nature, good food and archaeological finds are not enough, you will also be delighted by the sulphurous waters of Equi Terme, located in a fairytale setting, near Fivizzano. The establishment has a swimming pool for children. The Equi Caves Cultural Park is also open to the public. In order not to miss the crucial events, Villafranca offers a collection of finds and interesting thematic areas of Lunigiana’s popular culture, such as the peasant civilisation of the time, whose activities faithfully followed ancient precepts and which keep fascinating us in different regions. Except for Mondays, the Ethnographic Museum of Lunigiana is open from 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m., according to the summer opening hours.

On the edge of the Bagnone stream, divided by some small waterfalls, the waters of springs and hollowed areas create an ideal environment for lovers of sport fishing with fly rod. When the flow rises, kayaking is a customary activity. An enchanting place near Filetto, which is ideal for a revitilising dip and is very popular among Bagnone’s locals, is Conca del Merizzo. 

A bit of history

The lush woods of Bagnone seem to have been inhabited since the Stone Age. In particular, the hilly territory offered good food and shelters, as attested by a finding discovered in Treschietto, which was moved to the civic museum of Pontremoli, where it is now preserved: a small statue menhir that is revelatory of a nonmigratory human presence around the period of the melting of bronze.

It is probably during these immemorial times that whenever a danger threatened the valley people started to escape and to seek a shelter in the many ‘huts’ scattered across the Apennines. A modernised prototype are the mountain pastures of Tornini, Garbia, Baton, above the hamlet of Iera; today they are sorts of bivouacs used to store chestnuts or equipment to clean the woods. Nonetheless, they are useful to the most courageous travellers who want to reach the “Alta Via dei Parchi” (“High Route of the Parks”) and its wonderful naturalistic itinerary.

Originally, “Bagnone” as an urban centre only included the stronghold and the cluster of houses built around it, a kind of well armoured outpost aimed at controlling the road network of the valley floor; a similar role was played – and still is – by the nearby fortified structures (Groppoli, Mulazzo, Malgrate). In this period, before the Duchies, the economy was prosperous, particularly the trades in the nearby Apennine areas, with the ports of call along the Via Francigena.

Official records of the village, which by the way was already known during the Roman period, can be found in documents dating back to the year 1000. They describe a castle above the now lost village of Gutula. The first official lords of this territory were the Malaspina. Only in 1221, Bagnone was inherited by a smaller branch of the Spino Fiorito (“Thorn in Bloom”) family, the one of Filattiera, with Obbizino. From here on, Bagnone was the protagonist of the typical and sometimes bloody stories of Lunigiana: since it’s a borderland with great potential, it was contested and therefore courted by the powers of Milan, Parma, Florence and Genoa. The whole area became the residence of the marquisate in 1351, with the subsequent division into the four distinct fiefdoms of Bagnone, Treschietto, Castiglione and Malgrate. Bagnone got embroiled in the intrigues and pleasures of court of the Malaspinian descendants, which were well narrated in a handful of legends where depravity and even orgies are mentioned.

In 1385 Bagnone, where Alberto Malaspina resided, tried to overthrow the Malaspina family with the encouragement of the house of Giovan Gasparo Malaspina, lord of Treschietto and Alberto’s relative. It asked Florence for help: as a result, it fell under a kind of protectorate. Given the interest of the Florentine Republic in Castiglione del Terziere, on the one hand, and the agitation caused by the conduct of the Malaspina, on the other, the marquisate of Bagnone was sold as a fief, first to the Florentines themselves, then the Malaspina tried in vain to terminate the contract, but finally, in 1471, the Republic seized the castle and the village and kept it as a Signoria.

In 1737 Bagnone turned page and fell under the wing of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Following the Campaigns of Italy of 1796 it was annexed to the Ligurian Republic and, in 1849, to the Duchy of Parma, which it remained faithful to until 1859. With the unification of Italy, Bagnone finally found its configuration in the province of Massa. It reached its current extension after the annexation of the hamlet of Orturano.

A curious anecdote: in the early twentieth century, Bagnone stole the scene in the news for the biggest iron meteorite ever fallen in Italy… imagine the joy of the ghosts in the castle. 

Nature

The beauty of Lunigiana lies in the combination of the familiar sea and the beautiful mountain landscapes; the acclivity of the Apennine ridges, the high meadows, the rocky cliffs of the Apuan Alps, made even more famous by the marble quarries, which are located in the south, towards the coast and the Garfagnana.

All year round, you will certainly find accommondation options and sport activities that suit your tastes.Bagnone, with its thousand pearls, is an exceptional starting point if we want to understand this unique combination of elements as well as the villages and nature of the Valley of Magra. Nestled in the deep alluvial valley, which preserves it from the march of time and from the chaos of the cities, it blissfully lies at an average altitude between 150 and 1850 metres above sea level.

The ecosystem is limited but prosperous, the biodiversity is incredibly varied, and it is not that difficult to come across the golden eagle, or hares and wild boars. Moving towards the high mountain pastures, in the area of Zeri, the presence of bears is permanent. The abandoned fields and a progressive depopulation have led nature to take away from men a great part of the territory. It is not unusual to spot an interesting endemism, or wild narcisses, Aster flowers and alpine cornflowers, in the same tiny plot of lawn where more common plants such as blackberries or blueberries are. Hiking enthusiasts will find themselves climbing along the CAI paths of the National Park of the Tuscan Emilian Apennines, with a multitude of hectares populated by centuries-old chestnut groves and interspersed with the flora of the ridge and with the undergrowth, whose bucolic scenery will give you the possibility to set off for interesting excursions, to visit parish churches, buttresses and, surprise surprise, other mountain pastures.

The not so trafficked roads are perfect for mountain biking or horseback riding. From the village of Iera, without any subdivisions in the municipality of Bagnone, we can expect the system of the bivouacs of Tornini, or Garbia, dedicated to hikers who want to spend one or more nights indoors. The modernisation of these mountain pastures and of the paths along the Via del Sale (“Salt Road”) is managed directly by the Municipality, in partnership with the Park Authority. From Iera, leaving from Treschietto, you can walk on an almost flat path and enjoy the calmness of the woods and countless mountain huts scattered across lawns and ridges (in this last case there is the risk of landslides) inhabited by deer and ibex. You can discover springs and explore the Ligurian Apuan Trails.

The presence of streams allows you to refresh your mind other than your body and it is an attraction for young people, who come here even from the Tyrrhenian coast. If you are travelling autonomously and your trip involves long stops, a quick trip to the Cerreto Pass, the watershed between Lunigiana and the Alta Val Secchia, is recommended, as well as a visit to Sassalbo, a village that, according to the legend, was founded by the pirates who had moved away from the placid embrace of the waves. It’s here that we find the headquarters of the National Park, and Filattiera, Fivizzano, Pontremoli, as well as the nearby Emilia, which includes half of the Lagastrello Pass, the ideal “watershed” between the province of MassaCarrara and that of Parma.

Cerreto Laghi is a must-see if you are craving winter skiing. On the side of the Apuan Alps, Equi Terme is worth visiting. It’s famous in the world of mountaineering and it abounds with caves and crevices that are the joy of novice (and not so novice) speleologists. Not to mention the equally famous sides of the mountains, which are suitable for climbing. A short distance away, the scenery drastically changes and we reach holiday resorts such as Marina di Carrara, Marina di Massa, Ronchi, Poveromo and Cinquale di Montignoso, with its sandy coastline and cutting-edge beach resorts. 

Places of interest

Bagnone’s neighbours consist in a huge number of villages located on low mountains, where the rural traditions are still kept alive. Each of these neighbouring villages has created a melting pot of monuments, places of worship and legends that liven up the stories behind the construction of fortresses. The village, even on its own, tries in every way to sum up years of history and pilgrimages through the unforgettable landscapes… it welcomes the ford that divides the village in two, it embraces bridges and arcades that, to the right extent, are permeated by the magic of acrobats, witches and shops of butchers and shoemakers.

Not to sound repetitive, but Bagnone established itself as the epicentre of medievalism, which from here spread in the surrounding areas. As mentioned, when you stay here, the emblem and flag of the place is the structure of the castle, whose authentic part is the circular tower. The rest of the structure was slowly incorporated into the residential unit established by the Ruschi-Noceti counts, who took over from the Malaspina family as the lords of the territory. It can still be seen and it was built in place of the Malaspinian manor in the sixteenth century. With regard to the castle, the initial plan was connected to the walled village through Via Ponte Vecchio and a gate called Santa Caterina.

Therefore, the village develops around this central structure, which is not really imposing, and descends following a pattern of semi-annular (to use the technical jargon) circles. The castle of Castiglione del Terziere, built before the year 1000 and whose function was to monitor the Via Francigena, fulfills its duties by guarding the hamlet from the top of a massive square tower. Basically, windows and bastions flank the town, and the extension of the tower is the walled curtain that twists around the central fortified tower – perhaps, we could say that the titanic Castiglione del Terziere is the best preserved. Now a property of scholar Loris Jacopo Bononi, it can only be visited by appointment.

Unfortunately, only ruins remain of the castle of Iera. Once the tour is over, the castle of Treschietto can be accessed from the northeast side, which consists of structures, which have been preserved better than the walls, and a tumbledown circular tower. The old and beloved stones of Treschietto are probably the most evocative elements. If you are wondering what happened to the statue menhir found here, ask for the ‘Venere di Pietra’ (‘Stone Venus’) of Treschietto.

With the intention of expanding the tour of the castles, Massa Carrara is home to the phantasmagorical residence of the Malaspinian descendants in Villafranca, the Castle of Malgrate, which was reinforced and restored thanks to the Structural Funds of the European Union, and the fortification of Bastia, in the municipality of Licciana Nardi, famously known as “unassailable castle”.

Fivizzano can certainly be linked to this itinerary, the major Italian photographers contend for the Renaissance Medici square. Jacopo, the pioneer of printing in Europe, was born precisely here so don’t miss the Museo della Stampa (“Printing Museum”) dedicated to him.

As for the churches, Santa Maria, in Bagnone, is a modest building, completely grey, made of typical Ligurian sandstone; skilled craftsmen thoroughly sculpted it. Built in 1392, it houses an iron cross that is believed to have belonged to St. Francis of Assisi. The Saint is depicted on a majestic canvas placed above the side altar, commissioned by Prof. Count Properzy. Once a property of the order of the Augustinians, the Church of San Rocco, dating back to 1650, looks very similar and stands on the remains of an old hospital destined to welcome pilgrims in transit along the Via Francigena. It is thought that the small church of the castle, or of San Niccolò, is the oldest. It was built before the year 1000 and over the centuries it has been enlarged and enriched with a portico and a facade made of sandstone and, again, it’s the result of the work of craftsmen. The profile of this authentic gem, decorated with polychrome marble and neoclassical columns, is completed by Renaissance-style capitals, which support round arches. In the central altar on the right there is the fifteenth-century Madonna del Pianto.

Just above the village of Pieve, you cannot skip the Oratory of San Terenzio, a cult building which initially consisted of a single chapel, before being enlarged with the altar, which has a painted altarpiece, and remodelled at the behest of Count Antonio Noceti. There are some remarkable decorations dated to the seventeenth century. Do not miss Mulazzo, located along the Upper Course of the Magra. The village has two access gates and preserves the original structure characterised by narrow alleys. On the top of the hill of Giovagallo, in the municipality of Tresana, there is what remains of the tower (largely collapsed) of a much more magical and fascinating castle than those mentioned above. Dante Alighieri stayed right here, and from here he praised Alagia Fieschi, wife of Moroello Malaspina. 

Surroundings

Liguria, Emilia and Tuscany create a magical atmoshpere at the borders between regions. Lunigiana, and at the same time the valley floor of the Magra, contributes to create a kind of sensory path, which goes from Pontremoli and ends at the beginning of the Cinque Terre. The surroundings of Bagnone look like infinite spaces, each with its own identity. On the one hand, plains and heaths are the kingdom of dilapidated structures, which still have their unquestionable historical significance, on the other hand, the sea has shaped the cliffs and the terraces, making trade easier.

Bagnone is striving to make farms as prosperous as pet friendly hostels. The Parma area, with its Emilian delicacies and fresh pasta, the Art Nouveau style of its palaces, and La Spezia, a large international cruise ship port, supported by the pugnacious, intense and, despite everything, beloved provincialism of Massa, by the eco-sustainable tourism of the Cinque Terre, by the Apuan peaks and the sunsets on the Tyrrhenian Sea, delimit lands now lost in the many geographical areas of northern Italy. Lands lulled by rivers and mountainous slopes; they are the courageous daughters of the people who died for the homeland during the great wars. The bivouacs around the fire at the court of the kings and queens of the Renaissance are also part of their past. 

Monumental Lunigiana in the presence of the witnesses of time
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