castello piagnaro pontremoli

Pontremoli, its history and nature in the Lunigiana

A old village at the feet of the Apennines

Pontremoli stands at the foot of the Apennines, at the centre of a vast basin that extends as far as the Passo della Cisa and embraces the large area of the Magra, Verde and Gordana Valleys.

The name comes from the Latin Pons Tremulus, from the old bridge over the Verde river; “tremulus” is an old name for the poplar, the material used to build the bridge, or it might stem from the fact that the bridge tended to shake.

The old town centre extends over a spit of land between the confluence of the Verde and Magra river, at the foot of the Piagnaro hill, dominated by the castle of the same name.

You can see the town’s medieval history in the countless sombre sandstone bridge houses. Pontremoli underwent significant economic development in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with the construction of beautiful noble palaces.

Alongside Mulazzo, the town was the place of origin of mobile booksellers, who, with wicker baskets on their backs sold books in the squares and countryside of the North: the “Bancarella” literary prize is associated with this tradition.
 

From Pontremoli, heading towards Passo del Cirone along the SS62, you come across Mulinello. Follow the signs for Cevazzana d’Antena to reach the sulphurous water springs and spa. Carry on along this road as far as Casalina, where you can visit a water mill. At the end of the town, on the left, a path leads to Ponte della Valscura, a single-arched medieval bridge on the Via Francigena. After Groppodallosio, you reach Pracchiola, where you can make your way to Cascata del Piscio, a 40-metre-high waterfall. G.E.A. (an environmental association) tours begin in Passo del Cirone and you can take in the sandstone Cirone church.


At the start of the Verde river valley, you come across Casa Corvi. Towards Cervara, just after Borgallo, there’s the crossroads that leads to Grondola. Along this road, just after having crossed a small bridge, on the left you’ll see a huge, old oak tree. Here, you’ll also find Farfarà, an old set of farmhouses in a natural scenario close to the Pisciarotta waterfall, also known as “Tomba”, about 40 metres high.

Along the road that leads to Zeri from Pontremoli, take the road for Valunga, where you’ll see signs indicating the Stretti di Giaredo, an extraordinary 1km canyon along the river Gordana. To explore the incredible meanders of the straits, you need to carry on along the river bed, against the current, for about 500 metres.