Aulla in Lunigiana

Lunigiana: castles, nature and history

Some of the highlights of the region

Malaspina Castle is at the heart of the town, everything else was built around it. The houses are crammed tightly around the castle as if to protect it. The castle itself is solid and majestic and looms powerfully over the town. It was built in several stages and over several centuries, signs of which can still be seen today in its walls. The original castle was constructed here thanks to the strategic position of the area and its impressive panoramic views over the surrounding land. The castle today is in very good condition and still contains many ancient furnishings and frescoes. The only part of the castle which isn’t open to the public is the wing which is still inhabited today by the noble family who own it.

Heading out of Fosdinovo towards Fivizzano is the interesting walled village of Caprigliola with its original architecture. Further on in the town of Aulla, is the Brunella Fortress. This ancient fortress is a quadrangular construction built on a rock. It takes its name from the interesting colour of the stone used to build it. This fortress is a classic example of a fortification planned with military action in mind and was built at the start of the sixteenth century. There is also a botanical gardens inside its walls and the fortress today is home to the Museo di Storia Naturale (Natural History Museum).
The Museo di Storia Naturale in Lunigiana was opened in 1979 inside the imposing Brunella Fortress in Aulla. The museum was opened with the aim of conserving, understanding and increasing appreciation of the natural environment of the Lunigiana area. The museum is divided into three sections: the physical environment, the waterways environment and the lake environment. In the surrounding park there is a forested area with an interesting botanical garden.
The museum’s criteria has always been one of ecology and respect for nature and it aims to describe and illustrate the most important environmental aspects of the region such as the Mediterranean scrub, the woodland, the chestnut and beech forests, the agricultural cultivation in the plains, on the hillsides and in the mountains. There is also an area of the museum dedicated to cave environments.
If we continue on through Passo del Cerreto, we come to Fivizzano itself. This town is known as the Florence of the Lunigiana region and is home to the Museo della Stampa (the Printing Museum). Further on is the town of Verrucola with its impressive castle which used to be home to a famous sculptor and which looms over the town below.
Still further down the road are the towns of Licciana Nardi and Monti, which seems to come from the pages of a fairy tale with its romantic towers and castle.

The town of Filattiera le Pieve di Sorano reminds us of the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrims’ route to Rome which passes all the way down the Italian peninsular. Wander through the quaint street of Pontremoli to the Museo delle Statue Stele which is inside Piagnaro Castle and which contains originals and copies of all the stele-statues of the Lunigiana region. These statues are of both male and female sandstone figures erected by the ancient populations who inhabited the valley during the two millennia before the arrival of the Romans.