From the city walls of Lucca, we follow the Serchio River up and into the upper valley towards the Garfagnana and its tiny towns. Framing this trip is the stunning Park of the Apuan Alps. This is an area where good food and great roads go hand in hand.
Departure/arrival: From Lucca to Aulla
Duration: 2/3 days
Type of roads: mixed: hills and mountains
Program your GPS: Lucca, Borgo a Mozzano, Bagni di Lucca, Fornaci di Barga, Barga, Castelvecchio Pascoli, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Piazza al Serchio, Casole in Lunigiana, Aulla.
Now the SS/SR445 guides us, but first a quick stop in Bagni di Lucca: the spa and Circolo dei Forestieri are always entertaining. Then we come to the eternal dilemma: should we head to the left or the right? In single file, we stay to the right, and see in passing: the turn off for Tereglio and the wild canyon of the Orrido di Botri; Ghivizzano with its food festivals and castle; Pian di Coreglia and the nearby Coreglia Anterminelli (classified as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy); the Fornaci di Barga with the Bellavista that climbs towards Loppia all the way to Barga, which is a triumph of Romanic architecture; only to then get back on the SR445 and Via Castelvecchio Pascoli (the birth place of Giovanni Pascoli). If we take the left, however, from the turn off with SP20 heading towards the Fabbriche of Vallico we find a loop of narrow curvy roads that connect with the mountain towns, all under the shade of the Apuan Alps. Near Vergemili, allow yourselves to explore one of the three roads that explores the Grotta del Vento: a beautiful underground place and among the most important in Europe. The road then returns towards Gallicano. Be careful of gravel on the paved road: but it's a dive into nature that is worth the challenge.
The SR445 allows us to continue on towards Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, the intellectual and historic center on the edge of the Serchio and Turrite Secca rivers. Worth visiting are the Duomo, the Rocca Ariosteca and the Fort of Montalfonso – don’t miss them. The itinerary continues along the artificial lake of Pontecosi, which eventually arrives at Poggio, whmaps.google.it/maps/msere we feel the desire to conquer the Apuane alps yet again. The turn-off, which is very well marked, indicates the road for the lake of Valgi, the Fabbriche di Careggine (an underground village) and the Campo Catino (the monastery of San Viano). These areas all have hiking paths for people who enjoy trekking. For the followers of SR445, Camporgiano gives us the Estense rocca and the Museum of Ceramics. But now it’s time for curves: from Piazza in Serchio prepare yourself for a windy road of lovely views with a mountain pass (Passo dei Carpinelli – 842meters above sea level) and wonderful vistas. The charming center of Pugliano offers a short break before Casole in Lunigiana. Surrounded by medieval and Renaissance architecture, we meet the SS63 from the pass of Cerreto from which we can see Aulla, a very fitting end to our journey.