Lunigiana is in the extreme north of Tuscany enclosed by the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano mountains, the Alpi Apuane, and the Ligurian Sea. It takes its name from the ancient Roman settlement of Luni, the fascinating archaeological site of which is located on the nearby Ligurian coast. Due to its strategic position between Emilia Romagna, Liguria and Tuscany, Lunigiana was an important junction for routes connecting the north of Italy, France and Spain with Rome and the Mediterranean. It has always been a passing place for pilgrims and traders who have brought with them not just goods but also culture, ideas, and history. These are the factors that make Lunigiana such a unique and attractive region to those that visit it. Passing through its ancient hamlets with their cobbled streets, medieval bridges, and market places you immediately feel that you have discovered a magical place where the past comes back to life. It is a land to explore and discover, still not well know to mass tourism: you can explore it on foot or horse back on the well developed net of hiking trails from the heights of the Appennine to the foce of Fiume Magra on the coast, or by car along ancient roads or in its restaurants tasting local foods and drinking doc wines such as Colli di Luni.
You will never finish exploring Lunigiana: it is a region so full of interesting little villages, castles, Romanesque churches, and ancient footpaths that it is impossible to see it all in one visit! We strongly recommend spending some time getting to know the charming historic town of Pontremoli. A stroll through the narrow medieval streets is an experience not to be missed, as is a visit to the Castello del Piagnaro and the Museum of the prehistoric Statue Stele. Pontremoli has several churches that are worth visiting, including the Church of San Pietro with its famous maze inscribed on a stone block, and the church and convent of Santissima Annunziata which is packed with excellent works of art from the 15th and 16th centuries. You shouldn’t return home without having visited the hamlets of Filattiera, Fivizzano, and Iera, the parish churches of Sorano and Codiponte. To many people Lunigiana recalls the many castles that are in its territory like the already mentioned Castles of Piagnaro, or of Verrucola in Fivizzano, of Castiglion del Terziere in Bagnone, and the case torri (‘Tower houses’) of Caprio and Ponticello. Some of the castles are open to publics, some are not and one can visit them only from the outside, some are in ruins and covered with vegetation. A visit to these ruins can make you feel an "Indiana Jones" for one day...
All the territory of Lunigiana is a museum in the open. But in case of rain you can choose to visit the museums accomodated/enclosed within four walls like the one of Statue Stele in the Castel of Piagnaro (Pontremoli), the Etnografic Museum of People of Lunigiana in Villafranca and the Museum of Tuscan Emigration in the Castle of Lusuolo. The name Lunigiana derives from Luni, an ancient roman city funded in 177 a.C. which grew as a fortified centre against the Liguri Apuani who inhabited the area at those times. Luni became famous for its seaport from which many roman vessels departed loaded with wood from the Appennine, local food and wines. Today Luni is between Tuscany and Liguria and the ruins of the roman city are protected by an archaeological park with a museum that are worth visiting.
Food&Wine of Lunigiana
Lunigiana is a land of Tuscany still "wild" and uncontaminated. You can taste the goodness of this land in its typical food products and dishes. Mushrooms, chestnuts, herbs are ingredients of simple dishes prepared according to traditional recipes. The "boletus" mushrooms of the Magra Valley are prepared fried, stiffed, or used to prepared sauces for testaroli or preserved in extra virgin olive oil; the chestnuts are dried and grinded and give a flour used to make the lasagne bastarde, the pattona, or the gnocchi mesci; the natural herbs are cooked and prepared for the filling of the famous torte d'erbi (a quiche). The final products of the breeding of animals such as sheeps and goats, swine, and cattle, are salumi such as spalla cotta, filetto, and tasty cheeses from sheep or goat milk. From the eastern Lunigiana you can taste different kind of breads such as the Marocca di Casola, made with chestnut flour, or the breads of Po, Agnino, Signano, Vinca e Regnano. These delicacies cannot be enjoyed without a glass of the local wines, genuine, little crispy, and full of flavors. Try the I.G.T. "Val di Magra", and the DOC Colli di Luni.