Main places to visit in the province of Lucca
Everyone knows the beautiful Lucca with its imposing walls, the medieval churches, the Guinigi tower and the Lucca Comics and Games, but how many know the beauty of its province? Around Lucca we find a rich and varied territory that extends from the sea of Versilia, a renowned holiday destination full of nightlife, up to the middle valley of the Serchio river and the Garfagnana, where we can admire a splendid and wild nature, which perfectly frames some of the most beautiful villages in all of Tuscany.
Pietrasanta, the historic capital of Versilia
Pietrasanta is a lively center full of history and art. The highlight of the visit to the city is undoubtedly the white Duomo dedicated to San Martino. White because entirely covered with marble from the Apuan Alps, and it could not be otherwise if we consider the proximity between Pietrasanta and the quarries from which the famous marble known as Carrara marble comes. In addition to the Duomo in Pietrasanta there is also an archaeological museum to visit and the very special Museo dei Bozzetti, where we find the preparatory sketches that are made by the artists when they design their works.
Camaiore, between sea and mountains
Camaiore is located in a strategic position halfway between the coast of Versilia and the mountains of the Apuan Alps. If you are planning a holiday full of nature and the sea, this hamlet is just what you need. The sea is just a few minutes away by car while in the hinterland you will find the scenery of the Apuan Alps and a series of hiking trails marked by the combination of nature and archeology: in the area you can visit some sites such as the Grotta all’Ond that was inhabited by Neanderthals 40,000 years ago. Among the main things to see in the village, I recommend a visit to the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta and the Archaeological Museum.
Borgo a Mozzano and the Devil’s Bridge
The time has come to enter the Media Valle del Serchio to reach Borgo a Mozzano. This pretty village in the province of Lucca is famous above all for the extraordinary Ponte della Maddalena, better known as the Devil’s Bridge.
The name “Ponte del Diavolo” (italian for Devil’s Bridge) is linked to a popular legend that attributes to Satan the construction of this extraordinary work. According to tradition, the foreman, unable to complete the work in time, turned to the Devil for help; Satan offered to complete the bridge in exchange for the first soul that would cross the bridge: the classic pact with the Devil! Once the work was completed, the foreman, in agreement with the local priest, organized a real scam against Satan by making a dog cross the bridge… It seems that in the last nights of October we can meet a dog walking on the bridge: it would be the Devil still searching for the soul of the foreman.
Borgo a Mozzano is also famous for the great Halloween party that takes place on the streets of the village. Personally I was there a few years ago and I was amazed at how many people there were. Here, by the way, I witnessed one of the most surreal scenes of my whole life: at a certain point, in fact, the “Divine Otelma” (a folkloristic character from italian television) appeared in procession, blessing the present… crazy stuff!
Coreglia Antelminelli and the Museo delle Figurine di Gesso
With its great naturalistic, gastronomic and artistic heritage, Coreglia Antelminelli has managed to conquer a place in the guide “I Borghi più belli d’Italia” (The most beautiful hamlets in Italy). Excellent as starting point for mountain hikes, Coreglia Antelminelli is famous for the Museo delle Figurine di Gesso located in Palazzo Vanni. Here we find numerous plaster works that testify to an activity, that of the so-called “figurinai“, very intense between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Among the various works, one can admire 18th century cats, molds of various historical figures and a series of statues made for the nativity scene. In the museum we also find an important collection of documents related to the emigration that affected these areas between the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.
Barga, from the Middle Ages to the poet Giovanni Pascoli
Like Coreglia Antelminelli, Barga is also considered one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. With its dense network of narrow streets that only occasionally is interrupted by large squares rich in medieval and Renaissance buildings, Barga has all the typical characteristics of the historic Tuscan villages. The most important monument of this center is certainly the extraordinary Duomo of San Cristoforo. Built in a beautiful panoramic position in the upper part of the historic center, the Cathedral of Barga preserves several architectural elements of absolute interest such as the beautiful pulpit, dating from the 12th century, which was probably built by the Comacine masters. The center of Barga preserves many other valuable monuments such as the Teatro dell’Accademia dei Differenti or the Palazzo Balduini. Not far from Barga finally, in the hamlet of Castelvecchio Pascoli, we find theCasa Museo Giovanni Pascoli, a villa that looks as it was when Pascoli lived there, with the studio where the great poet produced many of his writings.
Castiglione di Garfagnana and its Rocca
The beautiful panoramic position, the medieval walls, the towers and the monuments give Castiglione di Garfagnana a special charm. Here you can breathe a unique atmosphere, a real dive into the past, in the Middle Ages, which seems to be able to relive in the shadow of the walls of the Rocca or of the towers that protect the town. In addition to the Rocca, very well preserved, here you can visit some churches like the one dedicated to San Michele or that of San Pietro, a small but interesting museum of sacred art and the fascinating medieval bridge of the Molini with its characteristic shape.