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Brugnato

 

“D’azzurro all’albero di susino al naturale, fruttato di tredici, nodrito su di una campagna di verde; al capo di Genova” (Descrizione araldica dello stemma)

Brugnato
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Brugnato’s origins date as far back as the Longobard era (7th and 8th centuries), when, in Valley of Vara, the monks of the Bobbio Abbey expanded their invaluable activity aimed at preserving the Christian tradition and built a monastery which over time grew to become a centre of crucial importance.

This took place a few decades before the enlightened period of King Liutprand, who was responsible for the annexation of Lunigiana to Italy (742); the Leboinic Legend of the Holy Cross (Ameglia) belongs to this exact same period. The imperial discharge papers of Charles the Great (881), Otto III (996) and Henry II (1014) all refer to Liutprand.

Brugnato was under the protection of the Republic of Genoa from the 12th century onwards, and in the same period (1133) Innocent II promoted it to the status of Episcopal seat and thus the ancient diocese of Luni was split up for the first time.

Today, the ancient legacy of that diocese is still solidly preserved by the La Spezia-Sarzana-Brugnato diocese.

The increased power of this territory inevitably led to clashes and contrasts between the most important families of the time. In 1215 Conrad Malaspina the Old, mentioned by Dante in Canto VIII of Purgatory and author of the dynastic division into Spino Secco “Dried Thorn” (Ghibellines) and Spino Fiorito “Blooming Thorn” (Guelphs), claimed his own family rights over the village and many of the surrounding lands (the Malaspina family had ruled over the whole Bobbio area since the 12th century) and succeeded in temporarily occupying Brugnato. The immediate intervention of Genoa led to the Fieschi being appointed vice lords of Brugnato. Following the alliance between the Malaspina and the Fieschi, which was sealed by the happy marriage between Alagia and Moroello II di Giovagallo (who were among the greatest protagonists in Dante’s Lunigiana), the influence of the Malaspina continued to permeate the entire Valley of Vara for a long time. The presence of the Malaspina in Brugnato came to an end only over the course of the 16th century.

It is safe to say that Brugnato is the heart of Valley of Vara. In the well-preserved historic centre, you must absolutely visit the Cocattedrale dei Santi Pietro, Lorenzo e Colombano (“Co-cathedral of Saints Peter, Lawrence and Columbanus”) – with its splendid 15th century frescoed column depicting a beautiful image of Saint Columbanus with the typical gesture of blessing, the Diocesan Museum – located in the Bishop’s Palace (next to the Co-cathedral) – which houses authentic artistic and archaeological treasures, and the Oratory of Saint Bernard, with its bronze portal by sculptor Pietro Ravecca.

Canestrelli, which are a type of soft handmade pandolce flavoured with wild fennel, are typical biscuits from Brugnato.

Brugnato’s origins date as far back as the Longobard era (7th and 8th centuries), when, in Valley of Vara, the monks of the Bobbio Abbey expanded their invaluable activity aimed at preserving the Christian tradition and built a monastery which over time grew to become a centre of crucial importance.

This took place a few decades before the enlightened period of King Liutprand, who was responsible for the annexation of Lunigiana to Italy (742); the Leboinic Legend of the Holy Cross (Ameglia) belongs to this exact same period. The imperial discharge papers of Charles the Great (881), Otto III (996) and Henry II (1014) all refer to Liutprand.

Brugnato was under the protection of the Republic of Genoa from the 12th century onwards, and in the same period (1133) Innocent II promoted it to the status of Episcopal seat and thus the ancient diocese of Luni was split up for the first time.

Brugnato

Today, the ancient legacy of that diocese is still solidly preserved by the La Spezia-Sarzana-Brugnato diocese.

The increased power of this territory inevitably led to clashes and contrasts between the most important families of the time. In 1215 Conrad Malaspina the Old, mentioned by Dante in Canto VIII of Purgatory and author of the dynastic division into Spino Secco “Dried Thorn” (Ghibellines) and Spino Fiorito “Blooming Thorn” (Guelphs), claimed his own family rights over the village and many of the surrounding lands (the Malaspina family had ruled over the whole Bobbio area since the 12th century) and succeeded in temporarily occupying Brugnato. The immediate intervention of Genoa led to the Fieschi being appointed vice lords of Brugnato. Following the alliance between the Malaspina and the Fieschi, which was sealed by the happy marriage between Alagia and Moroello II di Giovagallo (who were among the greatest protagonists in Dante’s Lunigiana), the influence of the Malaspina continued to permeate the entire Valley of Vara for a long time. The presence of the Malaspina in Brugnato came to an end only over the course of the 16th century.

It is safe to say that Brugnato is the heart of Valley of Vara. In the well-preserved historic centre, you must absolutely visit the Cocattedrale dei Santi Pietro, Lorenzo e Colombano (“Co-cathedral of Saints Peter, Lawrence and Columbanus”) – with its splendid 15th century frescoed column depicting a beautiful image of Saint Columbanus with the typical gesture of blessing, the Diocesan Museum – located in the Bishop’s Palace (next to the Co-cathedral) – which houses authentic artistic and archaeological treasures, and the Oratory of Saint Bernard, with its bronze portal by sculptor Pietro Ravecca.

Canestrelli, which are a type of soft handmade pandolce flavoured with wild fennel, are typical biscuits from Brugnato.

Places of interest

In the village of Brugnato, the Co-Cathedral of Saints Peter, Lawrence and Colombanus, located among the narrow alleys, pays homage to the place where the first version of the abbey was originally built by the monks of Bobbio Abbey. With two naves, a major central one and a minor lateral one, it is characterised by an imposing central structure that follows the medieval standards that were popular in the area of Luni.

It reaches perfection with the trusty quadrangular bell tower; the façade belongs to a later period, as it’s the result of a reconstruction in Baroque style. Over the years, the diocese of Luni was moved to La Spezia, leaving to the large building that dominates the cool streets of Brugnato the role of co-cathedral. The Oratory of San Bernardo is a baroque-style building that houses a beautiful canvas by Gian Lorenzo Bertolotto. The Bishop’s Palace, which is now the “Diocesan Museum”, houses  several religious artworks of the Vara valley and of the ancient diocese of Brugnato. A three-floor building with archaeological excavations on ground floor, displaying the ruins of the ancient abbey.

On the first floor, there is the bishop’s dwelling, with the study and the pieces of furniture; on the second floor, there are the rooms of the exhibition, displaying clothes, manuscripts and prints. The amazing Convent of the Passionist Fathers, a place dedicated to a zealous Christian life, includes the small church of St. Francis and a large cloister. It dates back to the 18th century. The Sanctuary of Madonna dell’Ulivo, in a secluded position, was precisely built upon request of the churchgoers. Among the main events, we have to mention the “Infiorata del Corpus Domini”. Brugnato is really attached to this anniversary, an event taking its name from the icon of the Corpus which brings together the inhabitants, reawakening their artistic spirit.

On this very occasion, we rejoice at the sight of a colourful carpet of flowers, almost a kilometre long and entirely made of polychromatic petals. The polychromies are often the result of improvisation. The themes, centred around religion, celebrate the Eucharist of Jesus. July is the right time for “A Village in Festa” (“A Celebrating Village”) , which is basically Brugnato’s way to cheer tourists during the summer. Moreover, there are the events related to the patron saints: Celebration of St. Paschal on May 17th, St. Peter on June 29th and the celebrations in honour of St. Bernard the Abbot on August 20th. In April, the celebration of San Lazarus does the honours with a lot of street food and handicraft stalls. Recently, Brugnato inaugurated the first large outlet village in Liguria, called “ShopInn”, with over 70 shops.

Food & Wine

Brugnato never goes out of fashion as a flourishing area where  desserts and cheese are produced: there’s the aniseed doughnut of Brugnato, which is very soft, spongy and its colour and flavour are those of freshly poured honey; the cavagnetto of Brugnato, a sort of basket enriched by the flavours of lemon peel and, again, of aniseed; the caciotta of Brugnato, a short-aging soft cheese; the mozzarella of Brugnato, fresh and stringy … we could go on forever.

Monumental Lunigiana in the presence of the witnesses of time

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Dante's footprint cannot be cancelled cover

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