Cycling tours in Lunigiana: history, culture and tradition
As the summer season kicks off, the local tourist office at Massa Carrara is offering cycling tours in the Lunigiana area – a new way of getting to Cialis know the region by combining sport and tourism. Cycling tourism has grown in recent years: there are two million people who practice this sport in Italy, and six million in Europe. Cycling is a kind of “slow” tourism which pursues a more authentic dimension to traveling. The Lunigiana area – with its villages, medieval castles, and uncontaminated nature – is the ideal destination for this kind of tourism.
The “Volto Santo” (Holy Visage) itinerary, from Villafranca to Equi Terme (62.5 km, medium difficulty), follows the ancient track that pilgrims followed to go to Lucca in order to venerate the Volto Santo. Along the route you’ll find Monti castle at Licciana Nardi, Verrucola castle at Fivizzano, and the castle of Castiglione del Terziere at Bagnone. At Equi Terme, in the heart of the Apuan Alps, you can visit the Equi Grottoes Cultural Park – an extensive Karst formation shaped by water erosion with wonderfully evocative hollows, tunnels, stalactites, stalagmites, and subterranean lakes.
The second itinerary begins at Pontremoli, an essential stop on the Via Francigena, and finishes at Aulla (26 km, easy). At Pontremoli, visit the historic town center and the Museo delle Statue Stele (the Museum of Stele Statues) in Piagnaro castle. Continuing along toward Aulla, you’ll encounter Malaspina di Lusuolo castle, home to the Museo dell’Emigrazione della gente di Toscana (Museum of Tuscan Emigration).
The third itinerary–“Rincorrendo il Medioevo” (Traveling through the Middle Ages), from Pontremoli to Licciana Nardi and back (54.6 km, medium difficulty)–is interesting from an historical and scenic point of view. Arriving at Bagnone from Pontremoli, you then pass through the hamlets of Pegazzana, Croce, Gabbiana, Lusana and Villa di Panicale before arriving at Licciana Nardi. The effort is amply rewarded by the beautiful views stretching from the high Magra Valley to the sharp outlines of the Apuan Alps – with the unmistakable shape of Monte Pisanino and the legendary north face of Pizzo d’Uccello.
The itinerary continues from Licciana Nardi towards Monti and finally Villafranca in Lunigiana, where you take the highway known as “della Cisa” to return to Pontremoli. The Museo Etnografico (Ethnographic Museum), housed in an old mill at Villafranca, offers a glimpse into the culture of the country folk of the Magra Valley. Visit the nearby walled villages of Filetto and Virgoletta.
The last of the itineraries offered by the local tourist office in Massa Carrara is “Paesaggi della Memoria” (Historic Landscapes), by mountain bike along the Linea Gotica (18.7 km, medium difficulty), with departure and arrival at Montignoso. This route features stupendous views of the Versilia coast, such as the spectacular view you’ll enjoy from Aghinolfi castle at Montignoso.
For more information and complete itineraries: www.aptmassacarrara.it