Three days in Garfagnana: caves, canyons and underwater villages

Explore the ancient land shaped by water
  • directions_car
    Means of transport
    By car
  • directions
    Distance
    140 km
  • access_time
    Duration
    3 Day

Garfagnana is an ancient and fascinating land, a lush, green mountain wedged between the areas of Lucchesia, Versilia and Lunigiana, gifted by a steady water flow that gives life to canyons, lakes and natural caves.

If you’re craving some real contact with nature, historic towns and the taste of Italian farming traditions, this is the holiday for you, perfect for both families with children and couples on the hunt for a romantic getaway.

Here is a three-day tour starting from the Serchio Valley, perfect for spring or summer months when nature is in full bloom, when the woods are full of life and trails are asking to be explored.

 

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Day One

From the Devil’s Bridge to Barga

From Lucca, the road to Garfagnana passes through the Serchio Valley, from Borgo a Mozzano, where you can stop and marvel at the Devil’s Bridge. Legend says Satan himself built it, in return asking for the soul of the first person to cross the bridge, but was tricked by villagers who sent an animal across.

Today, with its series of rounded arches, it is one of Italy’s most unique bridges and absolutely worth visiting.

Dedicate your day to seeing Barga: the spectacular medieval town set against the Apuan Alps, perfect for a stroll through ancient streets that take you to a cathedral built more than a thousand years ago, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the valley and mountains.  

Something you just can’t miss is a taste of local Garfagnana food products, such as the famous farro (barley), porcini mushrooms or dishes made with chestnut flour (used to make desserts such as the Castagnaccio), not to mention Biroldo, a blood sausage produced only in this area.

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Day Two

From the Grotta del Vento to Isola Santa

Head to Fornovolasco, near Fabbriche di Vergemoli, to discover the most prized treasure of Garfagnana: the Grotta del Vento, or Wind Cave, named after the strong air currents that pass through it. The cave’s variety of sights will be sure to amaze you: rooms adorned with millennial stalagmites and stalactites, tunnels carved by water and limestone concretions marked by vibrant colors. You can choose one of three tours for different fitness levels and timeframes: from one, two or three hours.

In the afternoon, head to Isola Santa, one of the most enchanting and romantic towns in Tuscany: nestled on the shore of an artificial lake, it appears to emerge directly from the water. This location is ideal for a picnic immersed in the greenery of the woods and the ruins of the town, half of which is still uninhabited.

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Day Three

The underwater village and Orrido di Botri

Finish your trip immersed in the beauty of two very special destinations. The first is Vagli Lake and the submerged village: under the surface of this artificial lake is the town of Fabbriche di Careggine, which was flooded in 1946 to build a lake for the national power company’s hydroelectric dam. Unfortunately, the dam has not been emptied since 1994, leaving the town imprisoned to the waters.

If you prefer a real adventure, head to Orrido di Botri: we’re talking about the largest natural canyon in Tuscany, molded through time by the waters of the Pelago torrent flowing from the Bagni di Lucca area.

Armed with hiking boots and a helmet, given to every adventurer of the Orrido di Botri Nature Reserve, now managed by the State Forestry, you can journey all over the canyon, between sky-high walls, freezing water and spectacularly clear waterfalls.

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