The beautiful landscape of the Garfagnana and the Mid Serchio Valley mountains holds a historic balance between nature and humanity, having been an attraction point for those in search of spiritual growth for centuries. If you’re looking for a mystical place to explore by trekking through the woods or visiting small villages, the surroundings of Monte Argegna will not leave you disappointed.
The Hospitale di Tea, built during the 12th century, was the first convent in the rich vegetation of Monte Argegna to offer physical and spiritual solace to pilgrims throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Today, its foundations which were brought to light by recent archaeological excavations an be visited and reached by a hiking trail.
Over the years, the area has become a pilgrimage destination, so much so that since 1895 the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Guardia of Monte Argegna has been accessible to all and is easily reached by car over the valley at the top of the mountain. Close to the sanctuary, you'll also find the Campana Votiva, a monument built in 1982 for the fallen soldiers of all the wars: its chimes resound throughout the valley to send a message of peace.
However, the mountain is not the only charming spot: throughout the area, unique villages have emerged over the centuries that are still the guardians of ancient secrets.
The first village is Giuncugnano, a small village in Sillano Giuncugnano in the upper Garfagnana, formed in 100 BC from an encampment of the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Silla.
Visiting it allows you to fully immerse yourself in the deep and mysterious nature, in which the people of the past kept the origin of the Church of Sant’Antonino Martire a secret.
Magliano is another village that's as small as it's old, with records of it only emerging in 793 AD. Here, the Church of Sant’Andrea Apostolo, dating back to at least the 15th century, preserves several relics of saints, revealing the historical and religious importance of the sacred place.
Travelling through the dense, wooded areas we arrive at Castelletto in Garfagnana, a small village in the upper Serchio Valley, whose history is characterised by a marked lack of documentation and is veiled in mystery thanks to the local legends that are still told today.
Ponteccio, on the other hand, is a village with clean air and fresh, sparkling water, characterised by a profound silence that envelops the stone houses, small church, wooden bell tower and the fountain in the main square: a stillness that awaits the summer and the arrival of tourists on holiday.
Not far away is Gragnana, a small village with evidence dating to 995 AD. The oratory of Santa Maria Vergine del Rosario was built here, with no documentary evidence reamining. Stories of miracles and apparitions are told, meaning that it's still a pilgrimage destination today.
Mount Argegna and its villages have not yet revealed all their secrets and are perhaps destined to remain a challenge for those travelling throughout these lands.