The ancient medieval village of Ghivizzano
The small medieval village of Ghivizzano is part of the municipality of Coreglia Antelminelli, in the province of Lucca. We are in the Media Valle del Serchio, about 30 kilometers from Lucca, an area rich in hills covered by woods, streams and many natural beauties. The historic center of Ghivizzano rises in a hilly position from which its ancient castle dominated the valley below where, in more recent times, the most modern part of the town (Ghivizzano Basso) has developed.
The first historical document that mentions Ghivizzano dates back to 983. From the end of the 10th century until the second half of the 14th century, the castle was a feud and jurisdiction of the Rolandinghi, then of the Castracani, who chose it as their family residence and as the center of their operations military. The famous leader Castruccio Castracani took care of reinforcing the defenses of the castle to which a barracks was added where a garrison of 40 soldiers was housed.
Ghivizzano acquired a certain importance at the time of Francesco Antelminelli, who lived in his castle between 1329 and 1355. Francesco, Castruccio Castracani’s successor, was first vicar and then count of Coreglia. At the time of his death, at the hands of Castruccio’s sons, he was succeeded by his son Nicolao who maintained jurisdiction over the entire vicarage of the mountain until 1369.
In the following years it remained under the control of Lucca and experienced a period of peace until 1429 when it was sacked by the troops of Florence. A few years later, the castle was conquered by Francesco Sforza who transformed it into one of his potentates. With the sixteenth century the wars ended and the village flourished again.
What to see in Ghivizzano
The southern entrance to the town is given by an arched door from which the paved street leads to the center and to the suggestive via Sossala (Sossala comes from “sub sala” which means “under the palace“). The road passes through the southern quarter of the castle, where it opens onto beautiful archways, steep stairways, suspended wooden galleries, brick windows and towers.
Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo
The church of Saints Peter and Paul is the most important and historic in Ghivizzano. Built by the Rolandinghi in 994, it was restored and enlarged by the Castracani in the Romanesque period and subsequently restored both during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The single-nave interior is decorated with 19th-century frescoes depicting Faith, the Fall of Saul and the Healing of the Cripple. In the church there are also some paintings and the tombstones of Giovanna and Filippo Castracani, respectively wife and son of Francesco Castracani, who was lord of Ghivizzano.
What to see around Ghivizzano
From Ghivizzano you can quickly reach all the other towns in the Media Valle del Serchio such as Borgo a Mozzano, where the famous Ponte del Diavolo is located, Bagni di Lucca and Barga with its magnificent cathedral. Going up towards the Garfagnana, you will find the villages of Castiglione, Castelnuovo, Pieve Fosciana and Isola Santa, the Fortezza delle Verrucole, the Hermitage of Calomini and Lake Vagli.
Several village festivals are held every year. The most important are the Norcini a Castello festival, the Living Nativity scene, the tripe festival and the village fair. The Norcini a Castello takes place in September and is an excellent opportunity both to taste the typical local products and to enjoy the atmosphere of this medieval village. In fact, on this occasion the town is enlivened by the historical procession, accompanied by games, music and various shows. Even the Presepe Vivente (Living Crib), in December, is an opportunity to experience the village in a special way, between re-enactments and parties.
How to get to Ghivizzano
Ghivizzano is located about 30 kilometers away from Lucca, 50 km from Pisa and 100 from Florence. In Ghivizzano Bassa is the Ghivizzano-Coreglia railway station which is regularly served by regional trains (30-40 minute journey from Lucca).
By car, if you come from Lucca (45′) you have to take the State Road 12 and the Provincial Road 20 in the direction of Borgo a Mozzano and then Coreglia Antelminelli. If you are coming from the other capitals of Tuscany, you must add the journey to get to Lucca first to this itinerary.