From the Garfagnana region you can easily reach famous historical centres such as Lucca, Florence, Pisa, the Apuan Riviera, the Versilia area, La Spezia and the Cinque Terre by public transport. The itineraries that are suggested here enable you to discover small villages and towns, natural environments full of rare beauty of a fascinating hidden Tuscany.
Serchio Middle Valley. This area offers important historical centres such as Coreglia Antelminelli, known as one of the most beautiful Italian “borghi” (village) with its Museo delle Statuine di Gesso ( Chalk Figurine Museum ), the Ghivizzano Castle, Bagni di Lucca a thermal Spa town, Ponte del Diavolo ( Devil’s Bridge ) at Borgo Mozzano and the Orrido di Botri and Balzo Nero Natural Reserves. (Guided tour information, tel. 0583800020 ). In the Valle Pedogna Reserve, there are some notable points of interest. Vetriano has the smallest theatre in the world. In Colognora di Pescaglia, you can find the Museo del Castagno (Chestnut Museum ) (www.museodelcastagno.it ) and at Celle Puccini, the museum residence of the great musician Giacomo Puccini, where he spent his childhood holidays ( tel. 0583359154 ). The itinerary from Pescaglia to fabbriche di Vallico permits you to visit some “ferriere” iron-foundries which are still operative like the ironworks Galgani, the one at Aiola or at Gragliana. The mallets powered by water still forge the iron in the century old tradition, making agricultural tools and the “testi” (round metal flat irons) an indispensable accessory to cook the famous “necci” with ricotta cheese, the “crisciolette” or the “focacce leve” simple local traditional dishes.
Gallicano – Grotta del Vento – Barga – Castelvecchio. The itinerary from Gallicano town that reaches the Grotta del Vento (The wind caves), beside the Turrite torrent, offers views of rare beauty, we suggest you visit with short detours the village of Verni and the mediaeval rock fortress in Trassilico. The Eremo di Calomini (The Calomini Hermitage) is nestled into the bare rock-face. Soon after is the Trombacco lake, narrow between the deep rock gorge. At Fornovolasco, the road ascends into the woods and after a few minutes you find the Grotta del Vento, one of the most well known group of caves open to tourist in the world. The magical underground streams and rivers (tel.0583722024 – 0583722053, or web site www.grottadelvento.com ). An alternative itinerary is to return to Gallicano by the high road from the Grotta del Vento which reaches Vergemoli, the local council town. From Gallicano you can reach the medieval city of Barga where the narrow stone paved streets oh the historical old city quarter, the renaissance palaces and buildings, take you to the high part of the city and the impressive Romanesque “Duomo” (Cathedral) where you have one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Apuan Alps chain. Not far from Barga, is Castelvecchio Pascoli, where it is possible to visit the poet Giovanni Pascoli’s Museum residence ( tel. 0583766147 or www.fondazionepascoli.it ).
Valle di Arni – Isola Santa – Altopiano di Careggine. Castelnuovo, with is Romanesque “Duomo” (Cathedral) and the Ariost Fortress, is the commercial and administrative centre of the valley, animated every Thursday, since 1430, by an open-air market. From the market-place, the provincial road leading to the Versilia area flanks the Turrite Secca, a typical Apuan Alps torrent, narrow in a gorge. After a few kilometres, you reach the lago di Isola Santa (Isola Santa lake), where an uninhabitable hamlet, with typical style buildings and stone slated roofs, lies on the banks. Continuing along the road, the scenery changes to the rock-faces of Monte Sumbra, with the “Marmitte dei Giganti”, characteristic rock erosions caused by water on the stone. At Tre Fiumi the principal road ascends to the Galleria del Cipollaio (Cipollaio tunnel) leading to Forte dei Marmi and the Versilia Coast, along this road, at Levigliani it’s possible to visit the wonderful cave Antro del Corchia (for more info about opening time tel. 0583778405 or www.antrocorchia.it); whereas, on the right, the road leads to Arni and the Galleria del Monte Pelato (Mount Pelato Tunnel) and the Passo del Vestito (Vestito Pass) and Pian del Fioba where it is a worthwhile visit to the botanic garden “Pellegrini”. From this height the view sweeps over the coast, the marble quarries of Carrara to the Golfo di La Spezia (La Spezia bay) and Portovenere. On the return journey, a little before Isola Santa, you can find the road leading up to Capanne di Careggine and the Maestà della Formica then down to the Careggine village situated on a plateau where you can enjoy a splendid panorama. Here in the winter season, you can ski and during the other seasons you can walk along fascinating paths and tracks in century old chestnut woods. When you arrive at Poggio, you must visit the small romanesque church S.Biagio.
Castiglione di Garfagnana – S. Pellegrino in Alpe – Pieve Fosciana. From Castelnuovo, follow the road SP 72 “Passo delle Radici” for a few kilometres until you reach the fortified village of Castiglione di Garfagnana which was recently named “One of the most beautiful villages in Italy”. A large wall once defended the fortress. To visit and reservation contact the local tourist board at www.castiglionegarfagnana.info . After a few kilometres you come to Cerageto, Sasso Rosso and Casone di Profecchia, the local winter sport location along the Passo delle Radici (1529 m above sea level), where the road continues to the Emilian region. Driving to the right you reach San Pellegrino in Alpe, where the panorama opens into the valley and Lucca plain. A must is a visit to the historical museum “Don Luigi Pellegrini” and the Sanctuary with the remains of the Saints Pellegrino and Bianco. The itinerary descends in the direction of Chiozza returning to Pieve Fosciana, where you can visit a still functioning water mill and the thermal spring of Pra di Lama, which as hot sulphurous water appreciated by the local people for its therapeutic properties. Taking a short detour from Pieve Fosciana you can reach the Lago di Pontecosi (Pontecosi Lake) where you can relax and enjoy or participate in animated water events (www.pontecosi.it).
Parco dell’Orecchiella – Fortezza di Verrucole. The orechiella natural reserves are the pride of the new tosco-emiliano national park. A territory with a landscape of rare beauty. Here deer, mouflon, wild boar and wolfs and many species of birds, some migratory and others who have found their home in an ideal habitat can be seen. The royal eagle who has always been present on the Pania di Corfino, extends his hunting territory up to the summits of Monte Prato and Monte Vecchio. The Orecchiella park visitors centre (Tel. 0583-619098 or 0583-955525) with a natural history museum, has a projection room and various stands with local products on sale. This park can be reached from Castelnuovo by following the directions for Villa Collemandina and Corfino. An “ easier” pathway reaches the fauna observation areas where you can see there mouflon, bears and roe deer. The mountain flower garden with wonderful summer flowers, the botanic garden (Pania di Corfino) will fascinate wildlife lovers. The itinerary to visit follows the road to S. Romano in Garfagnana thought the villages of Caprignana and Orzaglia until you arrive at Verrucole, where you can reach the magnificent Fortress, recently restored by a short walk. Here you can take part in mediaeval and historical events.
Lago di Vagli – Oasi Lipu di Campocatino – Lago di Gramolazzo. This itinerary leads you into the heart of the parco delle Alpi Apuane (www.apuaneweb.it), highlighting its peculiarities. Along the road to Vagli Sotto you can see the artificial lake of Vagli which hides the submerged village di Fabbriche. When the lake is drained the ancients village, founded by ironmongers from Brescia, comes hauntingly to life. A must visit is the San Regolo church, the Casa Abrami Museum and S. Agostino, a romanesque church (XI century). After going up to Vagli di Sopra you soon reach Campocatino an ancient pastoral area located on the sides of fields at the foot of the Monte Roccandagia. which now is the Lipu Oasis. A track, easy to walk along, shows you the natural characteristics of this basing formed in the glacial era. About a 30 minute walk takes you to the S.Viano Hermitage. From Campoatino you descend to Gorfigliano and at Gramolazzo the artificial lakes green waters reflect the profile of the highest mountain in the Apuan chain, Monte Pisanino.
Argegna – Giuncugnano – Sillano. From Piazza al Serchio, the commercial centre of the high valley, following the SR 445 road to the Passo dei Carpinelli ( Carpinelli pass ) you travel trough ample cultivated fields of “farro” (spelt), the cereal which has been recognised with the official I.G.P. Hallmark used in many of the local dishes. After the pass you descend into the Lunigiana valley, famous for its castles and the mysterious State Steli. Further up you come to the plateau of Argegna with its Madonna della Guardia, a white sanctuary situated on the great high field. Lower down in the valley is Giuncugnano. From here following the main road to Magliano and Ponteccio you come to the centre of the Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino (Appenine National Park). Here you find great forests extending in all directions. Nearby are the villages of Dalli di Sopra and Dalli di Sotto leading to Sillano and the SP Pradarena road. If you take a short journey upwards you reach the historical Pradarena Pass which connects the Garfagnana region to the Reggio Emilia province, whereas if you descend, you terminate the itinerary at Piazza al Serchio.
© Copyright tutti i diritti della Carta Turistica e dei testi sono riservati. Proprietaria G.L. Lucca Editrice Marketing & Communicazione. Autorizzizione n. 201 del giugno 2006.