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24 January 2012 Caterina Pomini 3366

Discover Enchanting Lunigiana, A Land of Impervious Mountains, Craggy Castles And Ghostly Atmospheres

There's still some dispute over the origin of the word “Lunigiana”: some people say that it takes its name from Luni - a Roman town which became the main urban center of the northern coast of Tuscany - other people believe that it derives from the crescent-shaped outline of the Magra Valley (which obviously resembles a moon), others suggest that the region was inhabited by "those who worshipped the moon". As if to combine history and myth, the current symbol of Lunigiana is a crescent moon held in the claw of a bear.

The Lunigiana is definitely distinct from the typical landscape of Tuscany, it lies north of the Versilian Plane, which basically was a swamp until the 18th century and in fact it basically separates Liguria and Emilia Romagna from the rest of Tuscany. Known for its wilderness, beautiful valleys, impervious mountains, craggy castles, ancient legends and ghostly atmospheres, should you look for a non-conventional Tuscany tour, we honestly think that it could be the perfect destination for you.

The first stop on your itinerary could be Pontremoli, a small town in the province of Massa-Carrara, which is believed to have been first settled around 1000 BC. Once here you can visit a large number of churches, the bridge across the river, several historic buildings and the magnificent Castello del Piagnaro, one of the largest castles of the entire Lunigiana. The Museum of the Stele Statues has been arranged inside this fortress and contains many stone structures found in the surrounding area, reflecting the histo-cultural heritage of the zone. About 10 kilometers away also stands the Pieve di Santo Stefano, one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in Tuscany, in the midst of a cemetery and with the headstones crowding the walls (creepy!).

Another small town which deserves a visit is surely Villafranca in Lunigiana, built at the confluence between two streams and well known for its ethnographic museum arranged in a mill; not far from here (about 30 km) you can visit Fivizzano, a walled town known as “The Florence of Lunigiana” because of its historical, cultural, economic and political links with Florence. Look for the botanical garden named Orto Botanico dei Frignoli, the city walls of the 16th century, the baroque fountain in the main square and the neighbouring medieval Castello della Verrucola.

Two more places to include in your itinerary: 1) Equi Terme - a small village famous for its prehistoric caves and for being also a spa town. 2) Fosdinovo - the seat of one of the branches of the Malaspina Family - with its breathtaking haunted castle.

Need a car rental? Find further information at Florence car rent -

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