Lunigiana is a borderland, a crossing point, a strategic filter for the flows of people and goods that moved from the Nord towards the basin of the Mediterranean until the mid-1900s. Seen from above, you can comprehend the networks of roads and castles, parish churches and hospitals that have written the social, economic and cultural history of this territory over the centuries; if it were recreated on paper, it would be a tight interweaving of lines and points, a network of hubs and connections that is almost ahead of its time.
The Castles – sought after by the Malaspinas, the Bishops of Luni, and all the nearby Signorias, from Milan to Genoa, from Lucca to Pisa – were a center of political and economic power. People prayed in Lunigiana’s parish churches and stopped in its guest houses as they walked along the Via Francigena. But if we retrace its history, we can find two other important themes: that of Alessandro Malaspina, the great explorer of distant lands, and of Dante Alighieri, the great epic poet of the otherworldly lands of the Divine Comedy, who found inspiration and refuge in Lunigiana. Not to mention the journeys of the 1800s and 1900s that brought merchants, peddlers and booksellers from all over northern Italy; or the marble, that travelled from the majestic Apuan Alps to the sea towards far-away shores, carrying the ancient knowledge of those working in the marble quarries, the sculptors who have been training in Carrara for centuries, and new technologies.
Lunigiana is a land where its different historical phases are still visible. You may find the Stele Statues, thousand-year-old hieratic sculptures with mysterious origins and functions. There are gardens with environmental art, like the Marrana in Monte Marcello; residencies for artists and writers, such as the Castello in Movimento program in Fosdinovo; and castles enlivened by artists and forward-thinking patrons, as you may find at Castiglione del Terziere. There are summer festivals dedicated to thought, such as the Festival della Mente (Festival of the Mind) in Sarzana, and to the performing arts, including the Festival Lunatica, which also holds the Premio Bancarella, a literary award with legendary origins, whose first editions were granted to writers including Ernest Hemingway, Giovanni Guareschi and Boris Pasternak. You can discover the traditions of Montereggio, Italy’s only booktown, and the history of the invention of printing, with Jacopo da Fivizzano. The culture of the resistance lives on thanks to the multimedia installations by Studio Azzurro, and theater endures thanks to small theaters like the one in Bagnone.
Some will say Lunigiana has little to offer, but we beg to differ, and invite you to come and discover more!