Must-see places...

Here a list of the beauties offered by the Garfagnana land...

1) Mount Argegna
A panoramic area where a magnificent view of the Southern Apuans can be seen. The candid building of a sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna della Guardia stands on a grassy hill surrounded by woods.

2) The Orecchiella Park
A widespread nature park which is managed by the Forestry Corps. Inside the park which is char­acterized by woods, fields and rocky areas, one can see deer, wild boar and other animals left to roam free. The “visitor’s centre” accommodates a museum which illustrates the main naturalistic aspects of the area.

3) San Pellegrino (m. 1524)
It commands an immense view of the Serchio Val­ley and the entire chain of the Apuan Alps. It has a museum which exhibits the tools of the farming life in past times and reconstructs some rooms of the period. In the sanctuary nearby the mummies of St. Pellegrino and St. Bianco are conserved.

4) Ecomuseum of Upper Garfagnana
From Gorfigliano a short ascent leads to the bot­tom of a hill dominated by the slender profile of a bell tower, flanked by the one which was the first church of the village. In the adjacent presbytery, recently reconstructed along with the church after being abandoned for a long time, a small museum has been set up which conserves a great assort­ment of everyday objects and tools tied to the tradition of the local population. The sector dedi­cated to the extraction of marble is particularly in­teresting. This place is extremely panoramic and looks onto a beautiful landscape characterized by the Lake of Gramolazzo.

5) The lake of Gramolazzo
A picturesque reservoir where the rocky peaks of the mountains Roccandagia, Tambura, Pisanino and Pizzo d’Uccello are reflected. Near the grassy banks of the lake a small pier has been built where rowing boats and sail boats can be berthed. It’s the only lake in Garfagnana suitable for bathing in spite of the low temperature of the water.

6) The Fortress of Verrucole
An impressive defensive structure erected by the House of Este on the crest of a steep hill which dominates the entire Serchio Valley.

7) Orto di Donna
A beautiful glacial basin surrounded by the moun­tains Pisanino (m. 1946), Cavallo (m. 1888), Con­trario (m. 1790), Grondilice (m. 1805), Garnerone (m. 1735) and Pizzo d’Uccello (m. 1781). Unfor­tunately, it is partly spoilt by numerous marble quarries.

8) Passo della Focolaccia (m. 1640)
On the Focolaccia Pass there is a big marble quarry where you can see all of the most mod­ern extraction techniques in function. The splen­did surrounding scenery, characterized by sharp spires, big rocky blocks and green meadows is dominated by the massive pyramid peak of Mt. Pisanino (m. 1946). From the quarry, following in a south-west direction the edge of the rocky crest, after a 45-minute walk you reach the peak of Mt. Tambura, from where an immense view can be seen. You can reach the Focolaccia Pass from Gorfigliano across a marble path which is about a three-hour walk. Thirty minutes walking time can be saved by going up by car until the end of the asphalted road. If you have a cross-country vehi­cle, it can be left near a bend just before a metal barrier, past which it’s another 45 minutes walk.

9) Campocatino (m. 1000)
A beautiful basin moulded by an ancient suspend­ed glacier and surrounded by the vertiginous faces of Mt. Roccandagia. Its flat bottom is covered by lush grass and surrounded by characteristic stone houses which were once used by shepherds dur­ing the summer pasture. It is only 6 km distance away from Vagli Sotto. A half hours walk away, it is worth visiting the hermitage of San Viano (or San Viviano) built inside a natural cavity situated right in the centre of a rock face.

10) Castiglione di Garfagnana
Situated on the confluence between the Turrite Secca and the Serchio it is the crucial centre of the valley and is animated every Thursday morning by an important market where stall holders and cus­tomers come from afar as the Emilian mountains. See the Ariostesca Fortress (12th century), and a little further away, the fortress of Monte Alfonso (14th century) situated in a dominant position.

11) Vagli Sotto, its lake and the “ghost town”
The fame of Vagli is mainly tied to the “ghost town” which emerges covered in mud every time a large reservoir is emptied. Other less well-known attrac­tions are the church of St. Agostino, a small gem of Romanesque architecture and the characteris­tic village of Vagli Sotto, built on the top of a prom­ontory which emerges near the centre of the lake. The surrounding mountains are beautiful.

12) Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
Situated on the confluence between the Turrite Secca and the Serchio it is the crucial centre of the valley and is animated every Thursday morning by an important market where stall holders and cus­tomers come from afar as the Emilian mountains. See the Ariostesca Fortress (12th century), and a little further away, the fortress of Monte Alfonso (14th century) situated in a dominant position.

13) M. Sumbra (m. 1746)
In the center of Apuane Alps, it's the best panoramic spot to admire the whole surrounding group of mountains. From Castelnuovo, after Cerretoli, Colle, Stazzana and Vianova, you can continue for Km. 2 till the "Maestà del Tribbio" site (m. 1157) from where you climb along the forest street until woody ridge over 1450 meters high. The pathway continues in the wood till 1525 m., where you keep the ridge till the peak. You can shorten half an hour of walk by getting there by an off-road vehicle till the Maestà del Tribbio.

14) M. Pania della Croce (m. 1859)
It’s the most popular of the Apuan Alps from which you can enjoy an immense panorama that on clearer days extends to the Tuscan archipelago, Corsica and the main peaks of the Alpine Arch. With the Pizzo delle Saette and the Pania Secca it forms an extremely interesting geomorphologic entity, including the Grotta del Vento and the Vetri­cia Plateau, one of the most spectacular karst ar­eas of Italy. From Gallicano by car go up until the end of the road for the “Piglionico” (km. 14,8), then proceed by foot along path N° 7 until the Rossi Refuge (1 hr. 30 mins) from where in 30 minutes you reach the peak.

15) Grotta del Vento
Situated in the centre of one of the most rugged and impressive areas of the Apuan Alps, the Grotta del Vento (Wind Cave) is visited every year by tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Its fame is due to the beauty of the underground environment, the extraordinary variety of aspects, which make it a true natural encyclopaedia about the underground world of karst cave systems, and the possibility to cho­ose between three different touristic itineraries lasting one hour, two hours or three hours which, along practical walkways, allow everyone to admire under the spotlights fairytale scenarios made up of stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones with bright colours and all still growing, translucent curtains, dark abysses, clear pools and underground water courses whose capacity varies greatly and is strictly connected to the intensity of the rainfall that pre­cipitates on the mountain. The tours are always guided in various languages, also with the use of audio guides. Apart from the classical touristic itineraries, for excitement lovers, two special “adventure routes” have been equipped with a duration that varies from two to four hours, where, by reservation only and guided only by a speleologist, the more adventurous can visit an incredible vertical labyrinth with shafts and canyons carved by waterfalls, trying out ropes and climbing equipment. The climbing equipment is supplied by the management of the Grotta del Vento. Outside there’s a bar, picnic area, minerals, fossils, costume jewellery, postcards, specific publications and information about the area. The Grotta del Vento is open every day of the year (excluding Christmas day) from 10 am to 7 pm, with different timetables according to the season. For more information contact the website

16) The Calomini Hermitage
An unusual monastery whose elegant 18th-cen­tury façade, situated at the base of an overhang­ing rock face, conceals a series of underground rooms which accommodate two churches, most of the monk’s quarters and an ancient kitchen. These underground rooms have been hand-chis­elled in the rock by the monks and the parishion­ers starting from the 7th century.

17) Barga
It is the most elegant urban centre of the valley. The new part is mostly made up of nice villas, of­ten in liberty style. The historical centre conserves intact the medieval urban street plan and has some austere renaissance buildings. The Roman­esque cathedral on the top of the hill is beautiful and looks onto the Serchio Valley.

18) Orrido di Botri
An impressive deep canyon, sometimes extreme­ly narrow, crossed by an abundant torrent which forms deep pools and numerous waterfalls. Pay attention as there are slippery rocks!

19) Mount Forato (m. 1221)
A perfect and huge natural arch which connects the two peaks situated along the crest which sep­arates Versilia from Garfagnana, 28 metres high and 32 metres wide. Its depth is about 8 metres. A unique spectacle for its beauty and grandeur and an exceptional panoramic spot on the nearby massif of the Panie. From the Grotta del Vento take the road towards Fornovolasco for about one and a half kilometres and then proceed on foot along path N.° 12 (2hrs. 30 mins).

20) Trassilico
This village has noble origins which can be seen by the elegant portals and fine façades of the houses, aligned in double row along the main road which runs parallel to the crest. The old Ro­manesque church is very pretty. An ancient medi­eval fortress stands on the highest point of a hill from where a magnificent view can be seen.

21) Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) - (Borgo a Mozzano)
A great example of medieval engineering with five asymmetrical arches that are reflected in the wa­ter of the Serchio river. The biggest is 40 metres wide and 18,5 metres high. Built in the 12th cen­tury, it is one of the most well-known monuments of the province of Lucca.

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