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Lunigiana

 
“Da Pontremoli entrò Mompensieri nel paese della Lunigiana, della quale una parte ubbidiva a’ fiorentini, alcune castella erano de’ genovesi, il resto de’ marchesi Malespini.” (Francesco Guicciardini)

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In our hectic society, all of us dream of trying, at least once in our lives, the “mysterious” pleasure of rejoining our most intimate nature, explore that part of the world that was once a pristine paradise, the silent wood guardian of myths and legends, the same natural world where our ancestors were born and  which is now only remembered in books. We read Tolkien, Lewis, we read of timeless adventures, and we dive into their epic stories and in those descriptions that, in the solitude of our house in the city, feed our imagination, like drops of dew for a thirsty flower. But what if there was a place, here in Italy, where it’s possible to feel this joy, these sensations, to experience these magnificent adventures full of myths, history and legends? This place does indeed exist and it’s called Lunigiana.

An oasis of peace,suspended between the sky and the sea”, a bridge connecting Liguria and Emilia, the extremity of northern Tuscany, almost a separate world in its own right, dominated by the peaks of the Apuan Alps, crossed by impetuous or calm waters, surrounded by beech, chestnut and centuries-old oak forests, defended by fortresses and manor houses that are part of History. Its unique geographical position and the configuration of the territory have made it possible for it to be inhabited since the dawn of civilization, and the populations who found refuge in the valley floor to hunt animals such as deers, fallow deers, bears, which could be found here at the time thanks to the very cold climate resulting from the glaciations (the remains of the cave bear were found in Equi Terme), immediately managed to find their own environmental and spiritual dimension.

With the agricultural revolution, the hunting men fortified the villages and engaged in works that still arouse amazement and admiration, as evidenced by the numerous finds discovered in the area. For example, the burials with weapons and jewels in the Tana della Volpe “Fox’s Lair” and in the Tecchia di Equi Terme, and the famous stele statues, mysterious anthropomorphic figures that still impress the viewers who stare at  them. These same men belonged to the ancient and proud population of the Apuan Ligurians, whose origins can be traced back to the Celts… perhaps it’s also for this reason that Lunigiana keeps the splendour of the medieval fortifications intact, and preserves the magic and the legends of its ancient inhabitants. To conquer this land the Romans had to face a strenuous resistance, and it’s after their settlement that the place took the name of Lunigiana, from the Roman colony of Lunae (Luni), which today is famous not only for these events but also for the sought-after wines. In the 5th century the Vandals plundered this territory and towards the end of the first millennium the dispute between the bishops of Luni and the Malaspina marquises for the supremacy over the area was resolved in favour of the latter.

In 1797, Lunigiana was annexed to the Cisalpine republic by Napoleon, and the boundaries that were drawn (still valid) incorporated most of the territory into Tuscany, with the exception of Sarzana and Luni, which were considered as part of Liguria. Over the years, after the end of the two wars and with the rapid urbanisation of the region, Lunigiana has gradually become part of the collective imagination as a set of picturesque and charming villages with a rich culture, to be visited during the summer holidays. In reality, it’s more than that: if its history hasn’t convinced you to get off your sofa yet, let yourself be persuaded by the magnificent view of the Magra river that crosses it with its wildest stretch, by the uncontaminated forests of Filetto, once sacred places to worship pagan deities, by the churches, castles and ancient municipalities of Villafranca Lunigiana, Bagnone, Mulazzo, Filattiera, Pontremoli, Licciana Nardi, Aulla, Fivizzano, Casola in Lunigiana and Fosdinovo, all easily accessible from the main roads and very close to the beaches of the Gulf of Poets, Cinque Terre, Versilia and the Ligurian Levante. And if you are still not satisfied, for the fearless adventurers Lunigiana offers guided trekking routes immersed in lush nature, ethnographic museums inside 15th-century mills, postcard-like farmhouses.

In August, lovers of the genre cannot miss an interesting historical re-enactment, a medieval market in Filetto, in the Byzantine district of the Marquises. A combination of colours and aromas of the season, which are a joy for the eyes and for the palate of food lovers. Hungry visitors will unleash the food lover within themselves and will be delighted by all the exquisite specialities, which include mushrooms and chestnuts, with their brown autumn colours. Cheese and game are other culinary options that you might find in appetisers, first and second courses. Hardly anyone will be disappointed; many people will actually take into consideration the idea of permanently moving here.

To conclude, “our Lunigiana” is not only a place for excursions, but it is also a landing place (perhaps one of the very few left) for dreamers, for people who keep alive the memory of a time when nature was hostile and mysterious to men, and yet salvific and wonderful. A primordial and timeless icon, an impenetrable cradle of ancient eras. It has stayed intact in all its glory, warmly welcoming travellers coming from everywhere.

In our hectic society, all of us dream of trying, at least once in our lives, the “mysterious” pleasure of rejoining our most intimate nature, explore that part of the world that was once a pristine paradise, the silent wood guardian of myths and legends, the same natural world where our ancestors were born and  which is now only remembered in books. We read Tolkien, Lewis, we read of timeless adventures, and we dive into their epic stories and in those descriptions that, in the solitude of our house in the city, feed our imagination, like drops of dew for a thirsty flower. But what if there was a place, here in Italy, where it’s possible to feel this joy, these sensations, to experience these magnificent adventures full of myths, history and legends? This place does indeed exist and it’s called Lunigiana.

The Lunigiana

An oasis of peace,suspended between the sky and the sea”, a bridge connecting Liguria and Emilia, the extremity of northern Tuscany, almost a separate world in its own right, dominated by the peaks of the Apuan Alps, crossed by impetuous or calm waters, surrounded by beech, chestnut and centuries-old oak forests, defended by fortresses and manor houses that are part of History. Its unique geographical position and the configuration of the territory have made it possible for it to be inhabited since the dawn of civilization, and the populations who found refuge in the valley floor to hunt animals such as deers, fallow deers, bears, which could be found here at the time thanks to the very cold climate resulting from the glaciations (the remains of the cave bear were found in Equi Terme), immediately managed to find their own environmental and spiritual dimension.

With the agricultural revolution, the hunting men fortified the villages and engaged in works that still arouse amazement and admiration, as evidenced by the numerous finds discovered in the area. For example, the burials with weapons and jewels in the Tana della Volpe “Fox’s Lair” and in the Tecchia di Equi Terme, and the famous stele statues, mysterious anthropomorphic figures that still impress the viewers who stare at  them. These same men belonged to the ancient and proud population of the Apuan Ligurians, whose origins can be traced back to the Celts… perhaps it’s also for this reason that Lunigiana keeps the splendour of the medieval fortifications intact, and preserves the magic and the legends of its ancient inhabitants. To conquer this land the Romans had to face a strenuous resistance, and it’s after their settlement that the place took the name of Lunigiana, from the Roman colony of Lunae (Luni), which today is famous not only for these events but also for the sought-after wines. In the 5th century the Vandals plundered this territory and towards the end of the first millennium the dispute between the bishops of Luni and the Malaspina marquises for the supremacy over the area was resolved in favour of the latter.

In 1797, Lunigiana was annexed to the Cisalpine republic by Napoleon, and the boundaries that were drawn (still valid) incorporated most of the territory into Tuscany, with the exception of Sarzana and Luni, which were considered as part of Liguria. Over the years, after the end of the two wars and with the rapid urbanisation of the region, Lunigiana has gradually become part of the collective imagination as a set of picturesque and charming villages with a rich culture, to be visited during the summer holidays. In reality, it’s more than that: if its history hasn’t convinced you to get off your sofa yet, let yourself be persuaded by the magnificent view of the Magra river that crosses it with its wildest stretch, by the uncontaminated forests of Filetto, once sacred places to worship pagan deities, by the churches, castles and ancient municipalities of Villafranca Lunigiana, Bagnone, Mulazzo, Filattiera, Pontremoli, Licciana Nardi, Aulla, Fivizzano, Casola in Lunigiana and Fosdinovo, all easily accessible from the main roads and very close to the beaches of the Gulf of Poets, Cinque Terre, Versilia and the Ligurian Levante. And if you are still not satisfied, for the fearless adventurers Lunigiana offers guided trekking routes immersed in lush nature, ethnographic museums inside 15th-century mills, postcard-like farmhouses.

In August, lovers of the genre cannot miss an interesting historical re-enactment, a medieval market in Filetto, in the Byzantine district of the Marquises. A combination of colours and aromas of the season, which are a joy for the eyes and for the palate of food lovers. Hungry visitors will unleash the food lover within themselves and will be delighted by all the exquisite specialities, which include mushrooms and chestnuts, with their brown autumn colours. Cheese and game are other culinary options that you might find in appetisers, first and second courses. Hardly anyone will be disappointed; many people will actually take into consideration the idea of permanently moving here.

To conclude, “our Lunigiana” is not only a place for excursions, but it is also a landing place (perhaps one of the very few left) for dreamers, for people who keep alive the memory of a time when nature was hostile and mysterious to men, and yet salvific and wonderful. A primordial and timeless icon, an impenetrable cradle of ancient eras. It has stayed intact in all its glory, warmly welcoming travellers coming from everywhere.

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Monumental Lunigiana in the presence of the witnesses of time

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