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What to do in Licciana Nardi

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Licciana Nardi in Lunigiana

Licciana Nardi is a town located in Lunigiana, province of Massa Carrara. Immersed in the unspoiled nature of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park, Licciana Nardi is a village that manages to combine scenic beauty with a respectable historical and architectural heritage. Specifically, this is an ideal destination for nature lovers but also for lovers of the Middle Ages and especially of castles. The castles are the great protagonists of this land: in Lunigiana there are so many and many have also been very well preserved.


The first documents on Licciana Nardi date back to 1255. The village initially developed around a military post that had the function of barring and controlling the valley floor, where an important connecting road ran between the Val di Magra and the area to the north. of the Apennines.

For a long time this part of Tuscany was controlled by the Malaspina, who fortified the village between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, which could boast a respectable defensive system consisting of a fortress, solid turreted walls and a second fort located on the opposite bank. del Taverone.

The current name “Licciana Nardi” dates back to 1933 when the surname of the two Risorgimento heroes Anacarsi Nardi and Biagio Nardi was added to the toponym Licciana.

What to see and what to do in Licciana Nardi

As already mentioned, the one in Licciana Nardi is a holiday dedicated to nature and castles. There are several in the area and some are really close to the center of the municipality. In addition to the castles there are also other interesting monuments to visit such as the Church of San Giacomo Apostolo and the Parish Church of Santa Maria di Venelia. The surrounding mountains, on the other hand, offer many opportunities for outdoor activities and excursions. Among the recommended itineraries, there is that of the Lunigiana Trail, a 230 kilometer route, to be done by bike, which winds through the castles and medieval villages of the area.

What to do in Licciana Nardi

Licciana Castle

The visit to the historic center of Licciana Nardi is not particularly long since its main points of interest are concentrated near Piazza del Municipio.

Here we find the Castle of Licciana which today appears as a fortified palace from the Renaissance period. This is because between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it was transformed with the aim of making it a residential site. Looking at the castle, it can be seen that it is connected with the nearby church via an elevated passage.

Church of San Giacomo Apostolo

The current Church of San Giacomo Apostolo dates back to 1705. However, this is not the first documented church in Licciana Nardi. An older church is in fact mentioned in the documents of the diocese of Luni in 1225, which refers to a church called Sancto Vagerano vel Lizana. The previous parish church instead, which was dedicated to Saints Giacomo and Cristoforo, over time was no longer sufficient to contain the entire population so, at the end of the seventeenth century, it was decided to build the current church.

The Church of San Giacomo Apostolo has a Greek cross plan with a dome overlooking the intersection between the nave and the transept. Inside there are some frescoes while on the facade there is a statue of San Giacomo.

Lunigiana Trail

The Lunigiana is crossed by many paths and dirt roads that today can offer the starting point for beautiful outdoor excursions. Lunigiana Trail is a stage itinerary designed for mountain bikes and electric bikes in a “bikepacking” style. Thanks to this tour you can reach many villages, churches, castles and panoramic points scattered throughout the Lunigiana. One of the stops goes from Pontremoli in Apella which is a fraction of the municipality of Licciana Nardi.

What to see in the surroundings of Licciana Nardi

Bastia Castle

The mighty Bastia Castle stands on one of the hills surrounding Licciana Nardi. Built towards the end of the 13th century, for centuries it played a defensive function having been conceived to create an opposition to the attacks coming from the Apennine passes. This function was also useful to the Florentines during the war with the Duchy of Milan between 1424 and 1428.

To cope with the evolution of military techniques and armaments, in the sixteenth century the castle was reinforced at the corners with four mighty cylindrical towers that gave it the current appearance of an impenetrable fortress.

Bastia Castle is privately owned but can only be visited by booking an appointment with the owners.

In its immediate vicinity, there is also the small Church of San Giacomo Apostolo to visit. Bastia is a village that deserves to be visited also because it enjoys a wide panoramic view of the valley below and the surrounding mountains.

Castello di Bastia
Castello di Bastia (Photo by Davide Papalini / CC BY)

Monti Castle

From Licciana Nardi, along the provincial road to the south, after a few kilometers you reach the hamlet of Monti. Here you can see the castle and the parish church of Santa Maria di Venelia.

Monti Castle was built between the 11th and 12th centuries. This castle, like many others in the area, was used to control and block the roads that connected Tuscany and the area beyond the Apennines. Over the centuries it changed hands several times and was restored several times to become a fine stately home.

Parish church of Santa Maria di Venelia

The Parish church of Santa Maria di Venelia is documented from the 10th century. A peculiarity of this church lies in the name Venelia which is of Ligurian origin and probably refers to a pagan deity. The current church was rebuilt in the 18th century. Today only the beautiful Romanesque apse remains of the medieval building.

Terrarossa Castle

Continuing beyond Monti we reach the intersection with the state road that takes us to the Castle of Terrarossa. The current complex dates back to the sixteenth century and stands on the site of a previous medieval castle. Located along the route of the Via Francigena, the castle looks like a square-based scheme with four bastions at the corners that reinforce the structure.

Other villages to visit in Lunigiana

In addition to Licciana Nardi, in Lunigiana there are many other villages to visit. The main ones are Fosdinovo, Aulla, Fivizzano, Villafranca, Bagnone, Mulazzo and Pontremoli.

How to get to Licciana Nardi

The Lunigiana is crossed by two railway lines, the Parma-La Spezia and the Aulla-Lucca, but neither of them reaches Licciana Nardi. If you travel by train you can get to Aulla and then continue by bus but it is certainly not the most comfortable solution.

By car, both those coming from the north and those coming from the south must take the A15 motorway to the Aulla exit and then continue on the SS62 state road and the SP74 provincial road to their destination.

If you start from Florence you have to take the A11 towards the sea and then continue on the A15.

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