It is an arduous climb up the hills between Carrara and Ortonovo, through chestnut forests, vineyards and olive groves, until you reach the remains of Moneta Castle. Its origins date back to Roman times, when it was agricultural land with a rustic farmhouse. The Byzantines transformed it into a castrum in the 6th Century, and it became a defensive fortress in the Middle Ages. Abandoned in the 1600s following the dismantling of its military structures, it was seriously damaged by an earthquake in 1920 and by bombing during World War II. The total absence of works to preserve it have brought a slow but relentless process of deterioration full circle, and today what remains of the Castle’s history is a mound of poor ruins. But these ruins are still fascinating, and make Moneta seem as if it were suspended in time, an enchanting stop on your journey through time in Lunigiana.
The origins of the castle’s name have been lost between history and legend. It may derive from the Gens Munatia documented in Luni and in Lunigiana, or from Ars munita, meaning fortified building. However, as we would like to think, it could also be linked to the cult of the goddess Juno Moneta, a deity whose counsel and teachings the population of Carrara was particularly devoted to, and to whom they asked protection from the dangers of quarrying and transporting marble.
The name Fossola, a small hamlet further down the valley from Moneta, also has an interesting etymology: in 1600, when the population began to emigrate towards the valley to cultivate the fields along the torrent, which is also called fosso – moat, it seems plausible that when asked “dov t’ sta’?” (“where are you?”), the person who had moved would respond “a sto’ ntl Foss là” (“I’m in that moat down there”), thus generating the name that is still used today for this area.
Source: Trame di Lunigiana