About the Lunigiana…

The name, Lunigiana, comes from the antique city of Luni. The Roman port city was one five main urban centres of the Roman Empire on the Italian peninsula. The others were, naturally, Roma, then Aquilea, Brindisium, Neopolis. Legend has it that Hannibal made peace with the peoples of the Lunigiana to pass peacefully to the Carpinelli Pass and down into central Italy where he was eventually defeated by Rome. The proverbial through the back door. Luni was at an important crossroads of the Via Aurelia connecting Rome to Spain, and the Via Francigena from France across the Cisa Pass into the Lunigiana, to Lucca, and eventually, to Rome. The Cisa Pass was the route to & from Northern Italy & Europe. As the Roman Empire dissolved into the Medieval era, the Lunigiana became an out-post for the Ottolenghi Family who united the territories of Northern Italy down to the region. Tolls were charged, a profitable business from the traffic of merchants & pilgrims passing through, and helped to maintain the soldiers stationed in the 120+ castles and towers throughout the area.

Today, the beauty of the Lunigiana is the combination of its majestic scenery of hills, valleys and rivers woven at the foot of the Apuane Mountains and the expanse of the Mediterranean Sea so close by. The nearest beaches, like links in a never ending chain, are a short 45 minute drive away. The closest beach is Marinella. The resort town of Lerici on the Bay of the Poets is just as close. Le Cinque Terre can be reached easily by train from Gragnola and Aulla or, by ferry-boat from Porto Venere or, La Spezia, about 45 minutes by car. Pisa and its airport, Galileo Galilei, Parma and Lucca are all a little over an hour’s drive away. Genoa and Florence are close enough for easy day-trips. The Apuane and Apennine Mountains are laced with stunning hiking and bike trails. And, for history buffs, there are all those 120 castles & towers and many charming Romanesque churches to visit and explore.

Photo medley for the Lunigiana…

Top row from left to right: the Lunigiana, a country chapel, resort city of Lerici…

Middle row from left to right: a Medieval bridge, an allee of pini marittimi, the village of Gassano-Fivizzano…

Bottom row from left to right: il Castello di Monti, the Medici piazza of Fivizzano, and the Apuane Mountains of the Lunigiana.

 

About the food & wine in the Lunigiana…

The Lunigiana is also noted for its cucina locale. Antipasto may begin with sgabei, a fried bread served with salami e formaggi or, panigacci, a rough flour crepe topped with various sauces from pestoparmigiano & olio d’olive to a hearty ragu’ meat sauce. The local pasta of testaroli, a boiled & sliced panigacci served with pesto or, simply with parmigiano & olio. And, there is the meat specialty of una tagliata of seared beef topped with rucola.

There are innumerable and excellent vineyards in the Lunigiana. Lunae, Colli di Luni DOC, Giovanelli, Castel del Piano, and Val di Magra IGT. Most are located on the slopes overlooking the Mediterranean coastline from Sarzana to the hilltop town of Castelnuovo Magra. Several wineries offers tours of their cantine, wine tastings and sales to the public. There are several signed Via dei Vini for vineyard hoping throughout the Lunigiana. Several of the Lunigiana wines, both red… called Nero here… and sparkling & still white wines have won awards at the Italian wine fairs in recent years.

Buon appetito! 

From left to right: testaroli with pesto, la rocca bread made with chestnut flour, tasting fresh-pressed olive oil, and a grappolo d’uva for the wines of the Lunigiana.