An enchanted territory, enclosed between the Apuan Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, and carved out by the Serchio River, rich in history and waiting to be explored: the Garfagnana, with the mid Serchio Valley, is a fascinating area, made up of forests of chestnut trees, small medieval villages and evocative scenery.
Nature dominates uncontested, with forests that are still untouched by man and mountain peaks 2,000 metres high. The highest point in Tuscany is right here in the Garfagnana: Monte Prado, near Sillano, reaching 2,054 metres. Giuncugnano, 885 metres above sea level, is the highest-situated town. Nature offers us incredible gifts like the Orecchiella Park nature reserve, unique formations, including the Grotta del Vento, the Orrido di Botri, an extraordinary canyon, and the waters of the Lima River, a paradise for sports enthusiasts.
Protected by the mountains, this area boasts many small and large towns, all unique and united by their splendid panoramas, curiosities and incredible cuisine. Some of the main towns to see are surely Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, with its celebrated 11th-century fortress, and Barga, where Giovanni Pascoli chose to make his home and which is today considered one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.
Then there’s Coreglia Antelminelli, also one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, Fabbriche di Vergemoli, home to the Calomini Hermitage, Gallicano, Piazza al Serchio, San Romano and the incredible Verrucole Castle. There are also many small villages clinging to the mountain slopes, each offering incredible views, such as San Pellegrino in Alpe, with views ranging from the Cimone to Libro Aperto to Mounte Giovo, and where you can visit the “Don Luigi Pellegrini” Museum of Ethnography, home to more than 4,000 objects attesting to the customs and activities of rural life in these parts.
Heading down into the valley, towards Lucca, some other well-known and pleasant villages include Borgo a Mozzano, stunning visitors with its celebrated Ponte della Maddalena (better known as the Devil’s Bridge and famous for its asymmetrical arches) and Bagni di Lucca, renowned for its hot springs that have been used since Antiquity, visited by historic figures like the poets Shelley and Byron.