Some history...and geography
The Lunigiana region, or rather the upper Lunigiana with which we are concerned is in the north of Tuscany and because of its funnel shape it has always been the way through between the sea and the Alps (only think of the ancient salt road). Consequently it has always been fought over by the various conquerors: first the Romans who made Luni, from which the name Lunigiana derives, the principal port for their trade with Europe, then the French, Spanish, Austrians etc. The result of this ancient history is still tangible today: walking in the chestnut forests which surround Lunigiana it is very easy to come upon remains of roman roads and bridges;listening to local dialects one can hear terms surely derived from French which indicates how much the old conquests weighed and are not yet forgotten. In the common tradition survive old legends of pirates supposed to have taken refuge in Lunigiana with,of course, hidden treasures. In a world of motorways, high velocity trains and multimedial connections Lunigiana has lost, at least in part, its old role and acquired a new one although there remains even today a connection important but different: that is the connection between ancient history and the modern world. When you enter Lunigiana (the northen border marked by the Cisa pass while on the other sides it is less marked) arriving at Pontremoli one finds oneself immediately in a different world,that is a world of bastions, barbicans, castles, old towns,narrow streets and memories of cows and horses on the road, of poverty and labor, of forgotten valleys with villages yet more forgotten, of silence interrupted only by cries of animals, where cleen air is the norm and montains and chestnut forest sconstantly permeate the lives of everybody. A world that is fabled but at the same time alive and real.
But once the border is crossed, taking the motorway to Aulla, in a quarter of an hour one arrives at Viareggio or at CinqueTerre. The mountains and the sea! This is the beauty of Lunigiana i.e. to be in a place where from one day to another one may decide where to go; tired of the beaches of Marina di Massa, Marina di Carrara, Monterosso, Cinque Terre? I Would you like to go on a trip to the caves of Equi? Well but seeing that you are at Equi, don't neglect the spas. You like the walks in the cool lanes but you have already seen Mulazzo with its memories of the visit of Dante;the wall town of Filetto; the castle of Filattiera with its town and romanic church;
Pontremoli its castle,its museum of monolith statues (from 2000 to 3000 BC) its numerous churches, its towers, its hump back bridges; Villafranca, the ethnic museum in an ancient water mill;
Malgrate with its castle and the various villages clinging to the mountains and you are beginning to be tired of old stones? Then why not go to the green lake and gather raspberries and blueberries, or to lake Santo to fish for trout and salmerini? (be sure to take mosquito repellents). You are not a fisherman and you don't want to take advantage of the fish of the Magra (there are no kill zones and limited catch zones)? You can go in search of mushrooms. You don't care for gathering mushroom (this is the best zone for Borgotaro mushrooms)? you don't like chestnuts, or perhaps it is not the season, and when everybody is complaining of the heat, sleeping in the open air without mosquitos is no longer a novelty, are you tired of breath taking views and valleys, of stones and the smell of mould and stuffiness?...
..Well perhaps it is time to return to the city, with air conditioning, with the smell of smog, with dust and noise, but I am sure that something of Lunigiana will remain in your heart.