One of the most important centers of the area

Upon its conception, Aulla was a small city, built to defend the bridges and roads leading into the region of Lucca, Liguria and to the Cisa Pass: there were the years of the fame and success of the Via Francigena, a route used for trade and pilgrimage.

Saint Caprasio Abbey (Abbazia di San Caprasio)
The Abbey was founded in the year 884 AD and entrusted to the monks who had ties with the Malaspina Family. The period of greatest religious and economic influence was from the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century, when the abbey had plebeian functions in much of the surrounding territory. Around 1070 AD, the original building was modified to assume its current appearance with three naves. It was renovated in the 14th century and during the baroque period. Today, it is a religious centre.

Fortezza della Brunella-Brunella Fortress (mid-16th century)
The Fortress takes its name by the name of the hill where it has been located since the mid-16th century. It is a typical example of Renaissance military architecture, conceived to ward off fire attacks. The layout of the building is quadrangular with large angular hip rafters. Today, it is also the home of the Natural History Museum of Lunigiana, an adventure-filed playground for children and a very rare pet cemetery.


Bibola (7th century)
Just a few kilometers south of Aulla, in the Aulella valley, stands the hill, town and castle of Bibola. Its origins date back to Roman times, although today, there are no traces of the Roman settlement. Later, Byzantine sources document the existence of a fortified site on the hill at the beginning of the 7th century, which was perhaps readapted in the 11th and 12th centuries when the Bishops of Luni contended the curia of Soliera, a traditional confrontation between the hegemony of the bishops and the Malaspina family.

Caprigliola (12th century)
The first mention of the castrum of Caprigliola dates back to the 12th century, but the Bishops of Luni had previously fortified the place years before. Of these ancient constructions, the elegant cylindrical tower still stands today, as do all of its main structures. In 1556, the Florentines built a fortified wall around the town because Caprigliola, together with Albiano, the town on the opposite side of the river Magra, was the natural point of access to the valley and the Apennine passes leading to the Po valley.

As well as the classic itineraries along the bottom of the valley following the Via Francigena, Aulla is also interesting for the mountain route of Bibola-Sarzana. Pilgrims came to Aulla through the Lagastrello (or Linari) and Ospedalaccio passes, or from the Fivizzano area or the right bank of the Magra. Today, if you want a taste of what it must have been like for the pilgrims in the 11th century, you can travel the very same woody roads to reach Sarzana in just little over five hours. Taking the high path of the Via Sarzanese, you arrive at the ruins of Burcione, a village that was once a rich and powerful settlement but was mysteriously destroyed in the Middle Ages. After Burcione you arrive at Bibola, located high on a hill, in a key position to control the roads that follow the river Magra towards Fivizzano, and the Garfagnana area.

On the road to Caprigliola holm oaks and chestnut trees cast their shadow over the path, wild rosemary and ferns flank the path and you can catch a glimpse of the impressive panorama offered by the Apuan and Apennine mountains: this is a synthesis of the Lunigiana landscape, deeply marked by the hand of man over the centuries. Where the four roads meet, you can get an idea of the thrill the pilgrims must have felt in medieval times, after months of trekking through the mountains or woods and the Po valley. Here, after a long walk, you are suddenly greeted by the spectacular scenery of the Ligurian-Tuscan coast: the long “crescent moon” beaches of the Apuan and Versilia area, the estuary of the River Magra, the Ligurian cliffs and Palmaria Island. The vast plains of Luni and Sarzana, rich with artistic treasures, can be reached on foot after a walk of roughly six hours.

Cooperativa Natour
Tel: 0187 400252/409077

One of the traditional dishes of Aulla is focaccette, a flat bread made with wheat flour and corn meal, baked between terracotta testelli heated on a fire and served with salami, or other cold meats and cheese. You should also get a taste of the panigacci, which go back to the times of old, prepared with a very liquidy batter using salt and water, then baked in terracotta testi and served with salami, other cold meats and cheese, or with pesto or meat sauce.

Source: APT Massa Carrara

Cover image credit: Paolo Baviera



Historical area located in both Tuscany and Liguria offers gastronomic delights
Lunigiana is a historical region located in both Tuscany and Liguria, between the Spezia and Massa-Carrara provinces. ...