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Fivizzano

 

“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)

Fivizzano
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Between the Apennines and the Apuan Alps, Fivizzano is a rich alcove of hidden treasures just a few kilometres from the exit of Aulla on the ParmaLa Spezia motorway. 326 metres above sea level, it’s one of the characteristic villages of that part of Tuscany called Lunigiana. It’s also known for its high-sounding nicknames, from “Terra insigne” (“Renowned Land”), “Il paese dalle belle finestre” (“The town with beautiful windows”), “Una perla perduta tra i monti” (“A pearl in the middle of the mountains”) or the more famous one, as a consequence of the influence of the Medici family, “Firenze della Lunigiana” (“Florence of Lunigiana”).

To understand the origins and vastness of this area where art and faith intertwine, a land of medieval ghosts, pulpits, churches and great pilgrimages, and whose nicknames are based on solid reasons, it’s important to know that Lunigiana, from an administrative point of view, is divided between the extreme north of Tuscany and the easternmost part of the Ligurian Riviera, along the course of the Magra river. The former includes the Upper and Middle Lunigiana, in the area of Massa Carrara, while the Lower Lunigiana is located in the province of La Spezia, along the last stretch of the river. Its historical boundaries are, however, much wider, and so the territory of Historical Lunigiana corresponds to the properties of the ancient bishopric of Luni, embracing the current provinces of La Spezia and Massa-Carrara, but also the upper Garfagnana up to Camporgiano and the Versilia area near Pietrasanta, in the current province of Lucca. It’s further distinguished between Lunigiana Interna, corresponding to the territory of the Upper and Middle Magra Valley, up to Albareto and Minucciano, and Lunigiana Esterna, which includes the villages that are part of the lower Magra Valley, with Sarzana and the final stretch of the Vara valley.

Therefore, it can be said that Fivizzano is largely part of the territories of Historical Lunigiana, and belongs to the area of Upper Lunigiana as a municipality within the province of Massa and Carrara. In relation to the area it covers, it’s one of the most extensive municipalities in the province of Massa, including numerous small hamlets such as Collecchia, Equi Terme, Mezzana, Sassalbo, Verrucola and Vinca among the main ones.  Characterised by pristine landscapes and majestic castles, it’s famously known for having been an important commercial crossroads between the Po Valley, the Levante Riviera and the port of Livorno since ancient times. You’ll see that the town develops to the left of the Rosaro stream, extending from the Cerreto pass to the Apuan peaks of Monte Sagro and Pizzo d’Uccello. Bordering with Monte Grosso and with Monte La Nuda behind, the town looks at the slopes of the valley of ancient Luni. Much of the territory that includes the hamlets of Fivizzano is part of the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and of the Regional Natural Park of the Apuan Alps.

Between the Apennines and the Apuan Alps, Fivizzano is a rich alcove of hidden treasures just a few kilometres from the exit of Aulla on the ParmaLa Spezia motorway. 326 metres above sea level, it’s one of the characteristic villages of that part of Tuscany called Lunigiana. It’s also known for its high-sounding nicknames, from “Terra insigne” (“Renowned Land”), “Il paese dalle belle finestre” (“The town with beautiful windows”), “Una perla perduta tra i monti” (“A pearl in the middle of the mountains”) or the more famous one, as a consequence of the influence of the Medici family, “Firenze della Lunigiana” (“Florence of Lunigiana”).

Fivizzano

To understand the origins and vastness of this area where art and faith intertwine, a land of medieval ghosts, pulpits, churches and great pilgrimages, and whose nicknames are based on solid reasons, it’s important to know that Lunigiana, from an administrative point of view, is divided between the extreme north of Tuscany and the easternmost part of the Ligurian Riviera, along the course of the Magra river. The former includes the Upper and Middle Lunigiana, in the area of Massa Carrara, while the Lower Lunigiana is located in the province of La Spezia, along the last stretch of the river. Its historical boundaries are, however, much wider, and so the territory of Historical Lunigiana corresponds to the properties of the ancient bishopric of Luni, embracing the current provinces of La Spezia and Massa-Carrara, but also the upper Garfagnana up to Camporgiano and the Versilia area near Pietrasanta, in the current province of Lucca. It’s further distinguished between Lunigiana Interna, corresponding to the territory of the Upper and Middle Magra Valley, up to Albareto and Minucciano, and Lunigiana Esterna, which includes the villages that are part of the lower Magra Valley, with Sarzana and the final stretch of the Vara valley.

Therefore, it can be said that Fivizzano is largely part of the territories of Historical Lunigiana, and belongs to the area of Upper Lunigiana as a municipality within the province of Massa and Carrara. In relation to the area it covers, it’s one of the most extensive municipalities in the province of Massa, including numerous small hamlets such as Collecchia, Equi Terme, Mezzana, Sassalbo, Verrucola and Vinca among the main ones.  Characterised by pristine landscapes and majestic castles, it’s famously known for having been an important commercial crossroads between the Po Valley, the Levante Riviera and the port of Livorno since ancient times. You’ll see that the town develops to the left of the Rosaro stream, extending from the Cerreto pass to the Apuan peaks of Monte Sagro and Pizzo d’Uccello. Bordering with Monte Grosso and with Monte La Nuda behind, the town looks at the slopes of the valley of ancient Luni. Much of the territory that includes the hamlets of Fivizzano is part of the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and of the Regional Natural Park of the Apuan Alps.

How to get here

BY AIR

The nearest airport is the International “Galileo Galilei” in Pisa. The airports in Florence and Genoa can also be convenient to reach Fivizzano, as they are both an hour away from the town. The Galileo Galilei airport is connected to the main European and international airports. There are also small airports in the province of Grosseto, Siena, in Versilia and the Marina di Campo in Elba.

BY LAND

From the North, via the A1 up to Parma, taking the Cisa A15 Parma-La Spezia. The first tollbooths you find are first Pontremoli and then Aulla. You continue along the State Road 63 of Cerreto. Alternatively, take the A7 Milano-Genova connecting with the A12 Genova-Livorno. From the South you can reach Lunigiana via the A1, up to Florence, and then with the Firenze-Mare A11 and the Livorno-Genova A12, connecting with the A15.

By train, it’s possible, from the north, to reach Pontremoli or Aulla, since there are no railway stations in Fivizzano. Between the two, we recommend the latter: leaving from Milano Centrale you can change in Parma and then take a regional bus to the station of Aulla Lunigiana. The route is actually not that difficult, and once you get off you can take one of the buses that serve Fivizzano. Leaving from the railway stations in Rome, you must necessarily change train in La Spezia, and from there take the connection for Aulla Lunigiana

How to get around

To get around Fivizzano and its surroundings, we warmly recommend using your own car or renting one: the villages and districts are located up the hills and it can be difficult to reach them on foot or by bicycle. Especially in the winter season, when Lunigiana really thrives, you should follow the rules and equip yourself with snow chains or snow tires. The presence of noble buildings well attests that, especially in medieval times, Fivizzano  was a crucial centre for commercial activities. Which is why, having parked your vehicle, you will be delighted by your visit of this town.  You can stroll along what remains of the walls built by Cosimo de’ Medici or sit down for a coffee in the old town square, where the central baroque fountain stands out.

The town develops between two gates: if you enter the village from “Porta Modenese”, you’ll come across the beautiful Fantoni-Bononi palaces, home to a small printing museum, followed by Cojari and the villa Benedetti Chigi. From Piazza Medicea,  in the historic centre, you reach the Town Hall and the former Convent of the Hermits of Saint Augustine. Returning to Via Umberto I, you walk past the Chiesa delle Carceri (“Church of Prisons”) and reach the “Sarzanese” gate, also known as “Fiorentina”. Beyond the walls, the village of Verrucola houses the homonymous castle for outdoor excursions.  Furthermore, do not miss the Botanical Garden of Frignoli and the caves of Equi Terme, which can be reached either by car or train.

In Equi, as long as you love the uneven paths and a raw mountain biking experience, you will appreciate the cycle path that connects the hamlet with Villafranca in Lunigiana, cycling for sixty-three kilometres to Monti di Licciana. The MontiFivizzanoMonti cycling ring trail is highly recommended.  If you live in a different town, do not despair: CTT Nord guarantees an efficient public transport service with urban and extra-urban lines in the territory of the Province of Massa Carrara and in the hinterland of Lunigiana, with stops in Aulla, Bagnone, Casola, Comano, Filattiera, Fivizzano – Fosdinovo, Licciana Nardi and the major municipalities, up to Zeri.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Fivizzano is the same as the one of Lunigiana: they are both linked to traditions that date back to the Middle Ages. It’s closely influenced by the geographical position, by the raw ingredients available throughout the year, such as wild herbs, chestnuts, mushrooms, honey and grass-fed meat, and by recipes handed down by the housewives from village to village. It’s also influenced by the Emilian cuisine, just across the border, with the provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia.

Among the most famous appetisers there are the frittini, prepared with yellow flour, borlotti beans and black cabbage mixed together and then fried; tigelle and focaccia di testo served hot with cheese and cold cuts; the sgabei, made with bread dough which is leavened, fried and finally salted. Among the savoury cakes, which are typical of Lunigiana but also of Liguria,  there is the unique herb cake made with seasonal pumpkins, leeks, borage, and wild herbs, the potato cake with tomato and mortadella and a new entry, the Arbadela, prepared with corn flour, fresh onions, fennel, chard and ricotta.

Among the first courses there are excellent types of bread, soups and stews. The “spelt soup”, where durum wheat is cooked together with legumes and vegetables, is a very ancient culinary speciality of Lunigiana. A unique dish is the Barbotta,  simple food cooked in the testi, with the sweet onion of Treschietto, cornmeal and cheese. Some artisanal bread makers are rediscovering the “panetta”, a type of summer bread, in which the predominant element is the corn flour kneaded and leavened with wheat dough.

The menu must include the rice bomb, which is a kind of cake filled with ham steak, sweet cheese and meat sauce, the lasagne bastarde (“bastard lasagna”) of Lunigiana, made with chestnut flour and soft wheat flour, and the testaroli, a typical dish from a poor tradition prepared with water, flour and basil, to be served with plenty of Parmesan cheese and flavoured with pesto. Another delicious dish that will make you lick your chops are the pappardelle with hare sauce, to be served hot, with a slow-cooked mirepoix and the exquisite rump of the animal. Among the second courses, game and what is left of the animals bred for slaughter which, as in ancient times, must not be wasted. The polenta incatenata (“chained polenta”) or “calzagatt” is accompanied by pork and broth prepared with black cabbage and potatoes cut into cubes. The Bisa is also prepared with pork, cooked sweetbread and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Another great presence on the table is the goat alla cacciatora (“hunter-style”), the Zeri lamb steaks and the numerous countryside recipes with rabbit, porcini mushrooms stuffed with grated cheese and breadcrumbs, and the Tropea onions filled with pulp of minced beef and flavoured with nutmeg. Farms produce cured meats such as spalla cotta (“cooked shoulder”), culatello, tenderloin and mortadella.

Desserts menu: how not to mention the Spongata of Pontremoli, a cake with a filling of honey, bread, almonds, walnuts and spices, or the Amor of Pontremoli, two wafers filled with an exquisite cream. The recipe for this dessert is a secret to this day. Other typical desserts are the “karsenta” and the “ciambellone”, the former is prepared on Good Friday, while the latter, which is known as “Schiacciata di Pasqua” and has also a hybrid variant, is prepared with half chestnut flour and half white flour. Lunigiana“Land of Wines” is an indissoluble combination. In any small shop, you will find a perfect match to enhance the rich flavours of Lunigiana’s cuisine.

The wine of Lunigiana has received the official recognition from I.G.T. “Val di Magra”, which approximately covers the entire area from Pontremoli to Aulla, with the exception of Zeri and Comano, and from the Colli di Luni D.O.C., whose production takes place between Liguria and Tuscany. Among the most appreciated wines, there are those obtained from the stem of the white Arbarola or Pollera, and the Val di Magra itself, followed by Candia dei Colli Apuani, Vermentino and Sangiovese.

A bit of history…

In ancient times, Fivizzano was known as Forum Verrucolae Bosorum and then as Forum Fivezani. The village was therefore an obligatory stop and a rest station, before heading to the mountain pass between Lucca and Parma, a crucial point where the paths coming from Luni crossed. Therefore, if the first settlements in Fivizzano date back to Roman times, the first written references date back to the Middle Ages, when the main settlement was the nearby village of Verrucola, under the jurisdiction of the Malaspina feudal family.

One of the earliest dates associated to the name of Fivizzano is that of June 13th 1229, in the Codex Pelavicino. And even earlier, a reference to the village was included in a Seal from Pope Eugene III, dated 1149. These data, however, do not give us a precise idea about the era where to place the origins of the village; in earlier times its proximity to Verrucola is misleading, also considering that the place of faith was represented by the proto-Romanesque church of this same village. Conventionally, the years in which it appears in the chronicles somehow coincide with the references to the construction of the castle of Verrucola, expanded in the first half of the 14th century by the famous feudal lord Spinetta Malaspina “The Great”. A place of faith par excellence, its administration was masterfully carried out by the Hospital Brothers of Saint Anthony of the Congregation of Vienne, a Roman city in France, who were commonly called “Antonines”. The first headquarters of the Hospital, the so-called Ospedalino, were built in the part of the village which corresponds to the current Via Labindo.  Today, the activities are carried out in another premise, in the religious buildings on the “Col di San Francesco” (“Hill of Saint Francis”). In the 14th and 15th century, Fivizzano had to deal with the incursions of Castruccio Castracani and the Visconti because of its strategic importance in the control of the Apennine passes.

In 1404, the Malaspina regained control of the town and, with them, the village gradually turned into a defensive citadel along the road that connected Emilia to Tuscany. After a long time, in 1477, the control of the Malaspina ceased as Fivizzano became the seat of captaincy under the direct control of Florence, thanks to the support of the Marquis of Fosdinovo, who was one of the most important allies of the Republic until Lorenzo de’ Medici died. With the devotion to Florence and the presence of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the aforementioned captaincy came to life, including, in addition to the twenty-six Villas of the land and of the court, twenty-one castles in Florence.  In an area surrounded by the Republics of Lucca and Genoa and which extended as far as the Duchies of Massa and Carrara, Parma and Modena and beyond the Marquisate of Fosdinovo, Fivizzano, under the Medici, witnessed a further commercial and economic boost. Wine, oil and legumes passed through this important trading route, along with the loads of pure white marble of Equi, the stones from the quarries of Pognana, but also charcoal and precious timber from of the woods.

In Fivizzano,  ironworks, paper mills, furnaces, dye-works, print houses and tanneries were also active. In the 16th century, Cosimo I built a new ring of walls, which can be partially seen today, to safeguard the local agricultural production and protect the territory from the assaults from Charles VIII of France and from the Spanish troops of the Marquis del Vasto, who were not deterred by the alliance with Florence. In 1571, in what we know today as Piazza Medicea, a unique challenge was held between the so-called land archers, coming from the urban centre, and the court archers, who came from the neighbouring districts of Guardia, Verrucola, Fittadisio and Montechiaro: the object of the dispute, so to speak, was to hit with bow and arrow a target placed thirty metres away.

Every year in July, a realistic reenactment has been taking place since 1971. More on that later. In 1633, Fivizzano became part of  the headquarters of the Governorate of Lunigiana. Between 1799 and 1814, after the Napoleonic period and with the onset of its decline, the territory of Fivizzano was split by the Emperor and was ceded to Elisa Bacciocchi Bonaparte.

After the Congress of Vienna, the town was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and this didn’t change until 1847. After his visit on July 6th 1848, Leopold II elevated the town to the “rank of Noble City”: in this period modernity began to make its way on the hills of Fivizzano. In 1829, works began on the construction of “the military road that from Reggio di Modena must reach the sea”, while in 1835 the town walls were demolished to give light and air to the houses under construction. The Gates known as the Sarzanese, the Modenese and the Nuova survived as ruins.

The fate, in a sort of derisory way, began to be unforgiving with the great crossroads that was the village; after an earthquake in the early “twenties” and the devastating bombings of World War II, combined with the numerous German reprisals in the hamlets of Mommio, Vinca, San Terenzo Monti and Tenerano, Fivizzano gloriously re-emerged thanks to the naturalistic tourism centred around its wonderful forests and to the significant demographic  growth that began in the 1970s-80s.

Since 2001, the territory upstream of Fivizzano has been part of the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Today, the town is known for its folklore, culinary tradition and enchanting natural landscapes.

Nature

Fivizzano is wonderfully wedged between the Apennine Park and the Park of the Apuan Alps, like a jewel placed between two different qualities of fine fabric: immersed in the unique beauty of the Ligurian and Tuscan forests, or in the ruffled network of vineyards and hills of Lunigiana, you can easily visit the architectural beauties of the many villages that overlook the paths. From the remains of the Paleolithic and Neolithic man, and from those of the caving bear found in Tecchia, to the Marmitte dei Giganti (“Marmites of the Giants”) in Mommio, natural caves excavated by the stream, up to the sulphurous springs of black water in Monzone – the whole area is characterised by surface and underground karst – and to the whiteness of the Cerreto Pass and the Apuan Alps, the great naturalistic heritage of this area goes hand in hand with atmospheres that are difficult to replicate elsewhere. There’s magic, there’s mystery, and both will accompany you throughout your stay. A wide network of routes, especially within the Apuan territory, are connected with minor itineraries that are easily accessible, such as the Garfagnana Trekking or the Alta Via delle Apuane. Within this network, about a hundred itineraries are signalled by the Italian Alpine Club. The differences in altitude lend themselves to sport activities such as mountain biking, which is supported by a convenient service of the Ferrovie dello Stato: all the trains of the Lucca-Aulla line, and several trains of the coastal line, guarantee cross routes allowing you to return to the starting point by train. From Equi Terme to Carrara, mountaineering or climbing is a good and healthy pastime: with the expansion of this type of activity, many new routes have been traced, starting from the famous north side of the Pizzo d’Uccello, to reach the Gabellaccia, the Torri di Monzone, the Contrario, the Sumbra and others. Just outside of Fivizzano, at the intersection of the Cerreto and Garfagnana state roads, the valley of the Lucido, one of the tributaries of Magra, is a must-see.

The valley has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period and in medieval times it was an important hub for commercial activities, as shown by the urban plants, where the inhabited slopes appeared to be easily accessible and are characterised  by the intense presence of shops and courts in the different villages, especially in Gragnola. Make sure to find time for a walk in the village of Vinca, in the heart of the Apuan Alps Park, which still preserves the features of the rural mountain civilisation: pastures, fruit trees and genuine conviviality. Further on, driving on the SS. 63, you reach the village of Sassalbo, surrounded by chestnut tree woods. The village is home to the already mentioned Botanical Garden of Frignoli, where you can admire plants and flowers belonging to endangered species. This location is very close to the famous ski resort of Cerreto Laghi.

From a geographical point of view, the Apuan Alps are not easy to explore: if it weren’t for the intervention of man, their harsh morphology would have made them real fortresses defended by deep valleys. However, thanks to the first extractions of marble, cipollino stone and other precious stones from the caves of the subsoil, and thanks to the different nature of the rocks that contribute to an extremely varied environment, the biodiversity of the territory has adapted itself to the presence of man, and vice versa. Within a few kilometres, from the short plain of the Versilia coast, the Apuan mountains rise to almost two thousand metres: from the coast to the hinterland, the Mediterranean-type vegetation includes evergreen sclerophylls, holm oak woods and maritime pine trees. As the altitude increases, the temperature gets cooler and the soil changes composition. You find yourself in a different setting, with centuries-old oaks, hornbeams and chestnut trees. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon to spot  some of the native species of the Apuan Alps such as globularia, the buphthalmum salicifolium and the Apuan cerastium. The woods are the real source of prosperity of these valleys and the importance of the chestnut tree in the past economy of these populations is well known. At higher altitudes, beech trees and moors hide the treasures of this protected area, a rich and unique wildlife. We should mention the coming back of the golden eagle, the constant presence of the peregrine falcon, the owl and the tawny owl, which are all natural indicators of healthy forests. A rarer presence is the coral chbough, with its distinctive red beak, which has become a symbol of the Park. Other interesting species are the dormouse, the beech marten and the marten, and as of recently the mouflon, which has well adapted itself to the Apuan environment. In the streams there is no shortage of trouts and amphibians, such as the fire salamander, which can commoly be spotted along path edges; other native species are the newt, the speleomantes and the Nebria apuana, an insect which can be found in a limited geographical area.

Places of interest

In Fivizzano and its surroundings, there are countless and timeless places to visit. Among them, Arteria, in the heart of Historical Lunigiana. In the whole area surrounding the town, there remain over 35 of the parishes that were formerly linked to the ancient medieval diocese of Luni  and of the thousand monastic institutions of the territory, including those of Sorano, Codiponte, Vendaso and San Caprasio in Aulla. In truth, what really defines Lunigiana is an incredibly well preserved heritage of artistic finds of distinctive style, which date back to late prehistory and protohistory: the Statues Menhir. These are anthropomorphic steles, carved in sandstone and dating to the period that goes from the copper age to the iron age. The representations of the human body can be distinguished into female figures, characterised by prosperous bosoms, and male ones, who typically carry weapons. With an estimated number of about eighty specimens, the most important reference centre is the one inside the Museum of the Lunigiana Stele Statues, in the Castle of Piagnaro in Pontremoli.  Other specimens are preserved in Filattiera and Mulazzo.

In Fivizzano, the remains of the walls, built by Cosimo in 1540 according to a previous fortification project in order to replace the Malaspinian ones, are as rare as those of Caprigliola, which date back to the same period. Even some shops remain faithful to their original appearance, such as the Antica Farmacia Clementi, a few steps away from the main square – once you enter it, ask for China Clementi, a tonic and digestive elixir that we highly recommend: Indro Montanelli, a frequent visitor of Fivizzano, knew its properties and appreciated its delicious taste. Also, there are bakeries that still produce the tasty bread of Vinca, made with soft wheat flour and bran, to be accompanied by the mortadella of Lunigiana. The massive castle of Verrucola, with its impressive view of the cylindrical tower that stands out on the opposite bank of the castle, between the Mommio stream and the Collegnago canal, takes us into the world of medieval architecture, precisely in the year 1044.

In 1300, Spinetta Malaspina expanded the structure, adding mighty towers next to the original fortified tower. Today’s structures maintain the three large halls, each on a different floor, inside a large quadrangular building. From a structural point of view, the vault of the weapons room on ground floor is particularly interesting, with its massive octagonal central pillar. The restoration works, carried out by sculptor Pietro Cascella, the current owner, enable you to get to know one of the most evocative fortified structures in Lunigiana. Visits must be necessarily booked, on Fridays from 1,00 p.m. to 5,00 p.m. The castle of Gragnola, otherwise known as the castle dell’Aquila (“Eagle’s castle”), is another majestic  fortified structure, perched on a hill between the Lucido and Aulella valleys. To arrive there, from Fivizzano, continue along the Regional Road 445 towards Aulla and then take the State Road 63 towards GassanoEqui Terme, which will lead you to the homonymous village. The castle and its fiefs were granted to Spinetta during the period of expansion in Eastern Lunigiana. There are no historical documents that allow us to know with absolute certainty when the works of construction began, but we know that one of the last interventions was the construction of the outer wall, probably dating back to the 15th and 16th century, with a drastic change to the access to the fortress: the whole path to the entrance gate, which gave access to the inner courtyard, was ‘walled’ and equipped with additional embrasures.  The defensive structure around the fortified tower and walls also seems to date back to this period.

Today, we can admire an impressive structure, consisting of a single building that incorporates the bulk of the quadrilateral fortified tower, which dominates the inner courtyard. In terms of dimensions, with its four floors, it’s one of the largest  castles in Lunigiana. A curious inhabitant of the fortress is Giorgio, born in the 14th century and today irremediably… dead! He was a knight, whose body was found in the castle, and who suffered a violent death. Today, he’s the subject of studies that aim at reconstructing his story. The castle of Viano di Fivizzano, in the Lucido valley, is an ancient Roman possession that later became the seat of the ancient parish church. It was the heart of the political domain of the Bianchi di Erberia, on the other side of the valley, it was joined by the walled village of Monte dei Bianchi, a religious centre belonging to the same family. What remains of the castle are the elements of the ring of walls, such as the gate and some characteristic alleys with vaults. This is the result of restoration works carried out in 1970 by the owner; the  village is located on top of the hill and develops around its cylindrical tower, with many small stone buildings that  follow a concentric pattern. You can reach the village through the provincial road to Equi Terme, which leads you to Pieve di Viano, between sandstone paths and mild slopes that still carry the echo of medieval times. At the bottom of the valleby, there’s the parish church of San Martino which, as mentioned, was granted to the bishops of Luni in 1149. It was built on what had previously been a Romanesque church. If you have the possibility to use a car, plan a trip to the Caves of Equi Terme, to discover stalactites and stalagmites, immersed in the karstic landscape of the Apuan Alps. Do not miss Carrara, the world capital of marble, and the extractive valleys of Torano, Fantiscritti and Colonnata, which is home to the famous “lard”.

Tourism infrastructures, tourism and events

In spring, between May and June, there’s a prestigious cultural and culinary event with the typical products of Lunigiana and the province of Massa-Carrara, in collaboration with Fivizzano Sapori; during the event, which is now well-established, the Premio Sapori Comune di Fivizzano is awarded to those people who particularly excel at preserving the culture of good food and wine. The reenactment of the Challenge between the Archers of the Land and the Archers of the Court is not to be missed; this event, which has been held every year since 1971, was handed down by Friar Tommaso from Fivizzano, who belonged to the hermit order of St. Augustine. The celebration begins with the introduction of the weapons to the Captain, who is then in charge of the shooting order of the archers. There’s a historical parade with people dressed in 16th century costumes followed by the actual challenge of the archers: five archers for each team compete with each other trying to hit with their arrows, which are shot with wooden bows, the targets placed 30 metres away.

In April, in Verrucola di Fivizzano, another extremely characteristic celebration takes place: Rievocando Verrucola AD 1352 (“Recalling Verrucola AD 1352”). You will be welcomed by the court of Spinetta Malaspina with culinary stands, medieval markets, performances and much more. In Villa Pescigola, just outside of Fivizzano, over 120,000 narcissuses bloom every year on the rolling hills of Lunigiana. You can attend this unique show on Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m., and the rest of the week upon reservation. Your visit will include refreshments with organic products from the farm; you can also buy plants and flowers.

Every August, at the end of the month, Agnino hosts the traditional Sagra della Pattona. The pattona, not to be confused with the chestnut cake, is a type of bread baked in a wood oven, inside testi covered with chestnut leaves.

In December, Equi Terme hosts the Living Nativity scene, which illuminates the narrow streets of the village with the warm colours coming from the torches and candles, while Christmas carols accompany the vigil of the people dressed in costumes. This evening event is dedicated to the nativity of Christ child.

Surroundings

On the one hand, looking west and towards the sea rich in fish of the Cinque Terre, Liguria welcomes the heritage of the ancient colony of Luni, on the other hand, Fivizzano is linked to the history of Tuscany, to traditions typical of hilly landscapes, in the middle of narrow curvy roads that go up and down, pastures, vineyards and woods immersed in the fog. A point of reference during you trip is Aulla, a municipality which extends in the valley floor crossed by the river Magra, up to the areas scattered between the mountains of Massa and Carrara. It’s inextricably linked to the abbey of San Caprasio, guardian of the neighbouring village of Caprigliola, with its walls built by the Medici (Bibola and Bigliolo). Fosdinovo, with its imposing castle, welcomes visitors who arrive from Sarzana, through the curvy uphill road which is a few kilometres long.

Filattiera, of ancient origins, is surrounded by a vast chestnut grove called “la selva” (“the wood”), which is said to be inhabited by ghosts. Licciana Nardi, in the valley of the Taverone stream, and Mulazzo, which extends from the valley floor of the Magra to the Apennine spur that divides the Vara basin and Lunigiana, culminating in Mount Cornoviglio. These are villages that really seem to be frozen in time. If you are particularly curious, near Fivizzano you can explore Bagnone, which faces the Apennine ridge and is located on a rocky spur, immersed in a thick mantle of pines and oaks. You can go even further, up to Pontremoli, in the northernmost part of Tuscany. It’s a mandatory stop along the Via Francigena, with its castle of Piagnaro, home to the Stele Statues Museum. Finally, the village of Annunziata, with the 15th century convent of the Augustinians, the one and only “key and door of Tuscany”.

Monumental Lunigiana in the presence of the witnesses of time
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