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Via Francigena Leg 25: Sarzana to Massa

A unique route passing through the ancient Luni and ending up in Massa

The first part of the leg is on the level. You reach Luni, the ancient Roman port where marble was shipped to Rome. The port of S. Maurizio was not far away, where pilgrims boarded to travel to Santiago de Compostela.

In Luni it is worth visiting the Archaeological Museum and the remains of the Roman city: the forums, the home of the frescoes and the amphitheater.

Continuing you return to Tuscany and reach Avenza, near Carrara.

Leaving Avenza, you take a road among the vineyards covering the hillswith views of the Apuan Alps and the sea. The route passes through the old center of Massa, ending up right in front of the Duomo.
 
Start: Sarzana, S.M. Assunta Cathedral  
Finish:
Massa, Duomo
Total length (km): 28,49
Accessibility: on foot or with mountain bike
Time on foot (h: min): 7
Climb in ascent (m): 586
Climb in descent (m): 544
Difficulty: challenging
Cyclability: 98%
 

SIGHTS
 
Luni: Here you’ll find the remains of the Roman city of Luna. Founded in 177 BC, it was an important hub and trade port for the marble of the Apuan Alps. Not far away was the port of St. Mauritius, where pilgrims departed for Santiago di Campostela. The archaeological museum and the remains of the Roman city, including the forum, a house of frescoes, and an amphitheater.

Avenza – A must see is the Church of S. Pietro, where there is a wooden cross, thought to bring about miracles and provide strength. It was a very important stopping point along the via Francigena during medieval times. Castruccio Castracani is the man to thank for its construction. Not far from Avenza lies the city of Carrara, home to the beautiful Malaspina castle, built by Alberico Cybo Malaspina during the fourteenth century. It now houses the Academy of Fine Arts. Carrara’s Romanesque gothic-style cathedral was built during the ninth century and then clad in Carrara marble.

Massa – A must see is the Ducal Palace, built between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries for Cybo Malaspina, which then became his primary residence. The most impressive part of the building was constructed by Carlo I, namely the Swiss Room and the Ducal Chapel. The final touches to these were made at the beginning of the eighth century by Alessandro Bergamini, according to the wishes of the Roman princess, Teresa Pamphilj, wife of Carlo II.  The Diocesan Museum is inside one of the historic palaces in Massa, the ‘little palace of the people’. Built at the end of the fourteenth century by Alberico I Cybo Malaspina, it was then donated in 1822 to the Diocese of Massa-Carrara-Pontremoli. Nowadays, works of art which best represent the art history and religion of the region are displayed in the rooms.

The Cathedral, named after Saints Peter and Francesco, whose dome was built in the seventeenth century, was built with only one central nave and three side altars. The chapel in the crypt contains the remains of the Princes and Dukes of Massa. Teatro Guglielmi, built in 1880, was named after the music maestro, Alessandro Guglielmi. The inside of the theatre is decorated ornately and divided into three levels and a large gallery.

The Misericordia Church, built in 1629, has retained, almost completely, its original structure. Noteworthy is the apse and the two side chapels. From Malaspina castle, built high on a rocky hill overlooking a vast area of flat land, you can enjoy a clear view of the coast. Originally from the Early Middle Ages, under control of Malaspina, during the Renaissance, it took on its current form as a palace and castle. The Church of the Madonna del Carmine was built in the mid fourteenth century, alongside the convent of S. Chiara, in accordance with Taddea Malaspina’s wishes.

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Francigena and Spiritual Routes