Discover The Hidden Tuscany

Discover The Hidden Tuscany

A holiday in​ Tuscany is​ everyone’s dream, but if​ you​ want to​ experience the charm of​ rural Italy, without the crowds, head for​ Lunigiana, in​ the northwest. Often referred to​ as​ the ‘hidden’ Tuscany, of​ course it​ has in​ no way been hidden from the locals or​ discerning travellers. and​ it​ would be fair to​ say that away from the surrounds of​ Florence and​ Siena, the people are more welcoming and​ less jaded by visitors. Bordered by high mountains and​ the sea, the hills and​ valleys are perfect for​ hiking, with cascading waterfalls and​ streams, chestnut and​ European oak, and​ mountain​ crags topped with ruined fortresses.

The region​ is​ dominated by the impressive, rounded Appennine Mountains, as​ well as​ the distinctively jagged Apuan Alps that rise near the Tyrrheanian Sea and​ run almost parallel with the coastline, from the Appennines to​ the countryside around Lucca. Various kinds and​ qualities of​ marble are found in​ the Alps, and​ at​ the Parco Naturale delle Apuane you​ can see the remains of​ ancient marble quarries.

Medieval villages are tucked into hillsides, and​ over 100 castles remain​ as​ a​ reminder of​ the wealth and​ power that is​ part of​ the history of​ the region. The port of​ Luni, established by the Romans, in​ 177 BC, at​ the mouth of​ the River Magra, was so elaborately adorned with the famous local marble that the Normans mistook it​ for​ Rome and​ destroyed it. The remains of​ an​ amphitheatre can still be seen there. Above the town of​ Aulla is​ the Brunella fortress, dating from the 1500s, which now contains the very informative Lunigiana Museum of​ Natural History. Further north, at​ Pontremoli, on​ the River Magra, the renown Museo Civico Archeologico is​ housed in​ a​ castle.

At Filattiera, you’ll find the 14th-century Malspina castle, now a​ private residence. at​ nearby Bagnone, one of​ the prettiest villages in​ Lunigiana, a​ fortress that was built in​ the 11th century overlooks the area. The fortress has since been altered by successive conquerors, one of​ which built the rounded turret that still stands today. Restored to​ its Renaissance splendour, the castle now contains the Centre for​ Humanistic Studies.

The Gulf of​ La Spezia, is​ known as​ the Bay of​ Poets, due to​ its association​ with English poets Byron, Keats and​ Shelley, who often visited its shores, and​ stayed at​ the old fishing villages of​ Lerici, Tellaro, Fiascherino, San Terenzo and​ Portovenere. From Lerici you​ can take a​ boat across the Gulf to​ the Cinque Terre, five picturesque villages that hug the mountainside along the Ligurian coast north of​ Portovenere: Monterosso, Riomaggore, Vernazza, Manarola and​ Corniglia.

Accommodations in​ Lunigiana are many and​ range from simple mountain​ cottages to​ coastal resorts. Villa rental is​ deservedly popular due to​ the many natural attractions and​ the generally lovely weather. Shop at​ the markets for​ local produce, such as​ chestnuts, virgin​ olive oils, prosciutto (the Tuscan raw ham), pecorino (ewes’ cheese), and​ delicious breads. The village of​ Colonnata is​ known for​ its exceptional pig lard that is​ covered with various spices and​ matured for​ six months in​ special marble tanks. of​ course you​ should sample the wines and​ where possible visit one of​ the many vineyards producing white and​ red wines that derive their unique taste from the mountain​ soils on​ which the grapes are grown.

Discover The Hidden Tuscany

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