It is situated in the Massa Carrara area, in the upper valley of the Magra in northern Tuscany. The ancient history of Pontremoli and Lunigiana is well represented in the Museum of the Statue Stele, which collects the prehistoric sculptures carved in sandstone from the third millennium BC by the people who lived in the area before the Apuan Ligurians.
The Pontremoli of the Middle Ages is documented by the end of the tenth century by Sigerico, who stopped on the itinerary of the Via Francigena. The village was defended by three forts: the castle of Piagnaro at the top of the ancient quarter of the same name; the Cortina di Cacciaguerra, the wall between the Guelphs and Ghibellines from which the great central tower was reused as a bell tower; the Fortress of Castelnuovo, on the left bank of the river Magra, positioned to defend the port of the ancient wooden bridge that perhaps gave its name to the village (pons tremulus). Pontremoli still retains some medieval bridges.
Pontremoli amazes visitors with the richness of the Baroque palaces and works of art in the churches. Important for its strategic position along the Via Francigena, Pontremoli develops its vocation as a market town as well as being the door of the Apennines. From the second half of the seventeenth century experienced a great development.
Pontremoli boasts a fine heritage of buildings, here are the must see:
- The baroque Cathedral of S. Maria Assunta, with a Neoclassical marble-lined façade and the dome covered with copper;
- The Church of San Francesco, with a Romanesque bell-tower and, inside, a work by Agostino di Duccio (15th Century);
- The Oratory of the Madonna del Ponte (or, Nostra Donna) is an unusual and significant example of Rococo architecture;
- The Church of the Santissima Annunziata just outside the built-up area, whose interior contains a marble temple (16th Century) attributed to Sansovino.
The territory of Pontremoli offers visitors a nature of great interest and rare beauty, starting from the waterways. Along the creek Gordana, for example, open the Stretti di Giaredo, a deep canyon situated at just a short hike from the town of Cavezzana. There are also numerous hiking trails in the surrounding mountains.
The gastronomy of the place comes from the mixture of ingredients of the culture of Liguria and Emilia with a hint of Tuscany. They are the renowned testaroli, quiches, venison, lamb of Zeri and dishes made with chestnuts.
- Bonfires in Pontremoli, an ancient ritual of Lunigiana
- Premio Bancarella, an Italian literary prize established in 1953 given in Pontremoli every year the last Saturday or the last Sunday in July.
- Lunatica Festival, a festival that take place every summer between July and August with a different stage every night (and one stage is in Pontremoli).
- Medievalis, which is a recollection about the arrive of Emperor Frederick II in Pontremoli in 1226
- Mushroom and Chestnuts Festival in October
This article was written by Serena Puosi