Lunigiana & The Region
Having long been lovers of Italy we explored the north seeking a region that was undiscovered by tourists, yet alive and truly Italian. We believe that in Lunigiana we found the “Hidden Tuscany”, lying between the Apuane Alps and the Appennines, an unspoilt area that retained the real Italian atmosphere. Historically pilgrims from Europe passed this way on the Via Francigena as they travelled south to Rome. It was an area of fiefdoms, defensible hilltop villages, forts and castles, which to a lesser extent dominate the horizon, superseded only by the mountain ranges. The area is surrounded by six national parks, some with UNESCO status and a short drive in any direction will take you to different scenery. To the south, the busy coastal strip or the cliffs and coves of Liguria or north to the quite mountain tops and winter ski resorts.
Literally translated means “Land of the moon”, the “Hidden Tuscany” trapped between the spine of Italy, The Apennines and marble coastal mountains of The Apuane Alps, is a land steeped in history and tradition, fiercely independent it was a major centre of resistance during the war. The hill top villages, with friendly villagers beckon you from the valley floors with their mountain streams and torrents, up wooded hills sides to these historic habitations. In Rometta and Gassano we discovered authentic historic Italian villages, vibrant and occupied by Italians of all ages, yet with easy access to modern facilities, motorways, airports, and public transport. We were fortunate enough to acquire a house in Gassano, a village which reflects the true character of Lunigiana. and subsequently bought a second property to let in Rometta. More recently we have managed to acquire an adjoining property in Gassano, some of which had been part of our original property. These homes have been in the same families for generations and similar properties rarely become available. We have since decided to let our home at Gassano, when we are not there, in addition to the other properties.
The local scenery is stunning, as is the coast with the hanging villages of the Cinque Terre, a national park, the millionaires harbour of Portofino and the less well-known port of Portovenere. Small coves and public beaches are to be found at Lerici and the more typical Mediterranean private pay beaches on the Massa coast. The location serves as an excellent base to explore Firenze, Parma, Pisa, Lucca and The Riviera. The city of Milan is just over two hours away and the Lakes three, although these are probably better seen on a two-centre basis.
Numerous bars, pizzerias and restaurants are to be found in the local villages. Close by is the delightful market town of Fivizzano with a good selection of shops. Cafes and restaurants circle the piazza with its elegant fountain, creating a relaxing atmosphere in which to sit and enjoy an early evening drink. Wandering its small lanes brings you to the church where beautiful 16th century frescoes were recently discovered during renovation work.
Between 10 and 15 minutes drive, is Aulla a regional centre with major supermarkets and much larger selection of shops, stores, garages and banks. The town is a centre of new investment and is located on the main La Spezia – Parma motorway and is also a main railway junction. Local activities range from skiing in the winter, the nearest slopes are about ten miles away, walking and mountain bike riding, all manner of water sports at Lerici and swimming in July and August at the local open air pools.
A hot spring is to be found at Equiterme also with thermal open air pool and spectacular caves. Tennis, golf and horse riding are all available in the local area. Alternatively just spend the day exploring a new village or settlement, especially on market day, trying the local bars and restaurants and watching the Italian world move by.