PRLog - Nov. 15, 2012 - FLORENCE, Italy -- There's still some dispute over the origin of the word “Lunigiana”: some people believe that it owes its name to Luni, a Roman town which became the main urban center of the northern coast of Tuscany, others agree that it derives from the crescent-shaped outline of the Magra Valley (which obviously resembles a moon), others lastly suggest that it was inhabited by those who worshipped the moon... As if it had to combine history and myth, the symbol of Lunigiana is a crescent moon held in the claw of a bear.
The Lunigiana is totally distinct from the typical landscape of Tuscany, it is located north of the Versilian Plain and is in fact a sort of "middle earth" between Liguria, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany; known for its wilderness, its craggy castles, ancient legends and ghostly atmospheres, should you have in mind an unusual vacation, this is probably the one you are looking for.
The first stop of your journey could be Pontremoli, a small town in the province of Massa-Carrara, which is believed to have been first settled around 1000 BC. Once here you can visit a large number of churches, the bridge across the river, some aristocratic buildings and the magnificent Castello del Piagnaro, one of the largest fortresses of the entire area; the Museum of the Stele Statues has been arranged inside this castle and contains many stone structures found in the immediate surroundings reflecting the histo-cultural heritage of the zone. About 10 kilometers away from Pontremoli stands the Parish Church of Santo Stefano, one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in Tuscany... In the midst of a cemetery and with the headstones crowding the walls (very creepy!).
Another small town which deserves a visit is Villafranca in Lunigiana, erected at the confluence between two streams and well known for its etnographical museum arranged in a mill; about 30 km from here you can visit also Fivizzano, a walled city known as “The Florence of Lunigiana” because of its historical, cultural, economic and political links with Florence.
Drive to Equi Terme, a small village famous for its prehistoric caves and for being also a spa town or to Fosdinovo, the seat of one of the branches of the Malaspina Family, renowned for its breathtaking castle haunted by the ghost of Bianca Maria Aloisia Malaspina.
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