The journey evokes ancient legends, evocative landscapes and timeless stories.
In fact, for centuries man has been searching for new forms of communication, ways of development and relationships with everything around him, succeeding in transforming his great and infinite wandering into new experiences.
Through increasingly distant lands and worlds he has adopted the sounds and colors of civilizations, maturing with other skills and ways of life.
And the road became modern precisely because of the desire for knowledge that drove man to find something beyond the mountains.
And still today, through the glass of a moving engine, there is someone who scans the horizon dreaming in the red of the sunset a new frontier of conquest.
A slice of sea surrounded by mountains and a cluster of colorful villages climbing green slopes. An evocative setting accompanies the journey in Liguria di Levante, the first part of the region affected by the route of our company. And we start from Sestri Levante, a town born and developed on the sea, thanks to the ability of its people to make the most of the resources of the big blue brother. Stories of fishing, boats and storms, love and hate towards the immense resource on which the center was developed and currently among the most visited by tourists from all over Europe. Sestri Levante is divided into two parts: the old and the new town.
Sestri Levante has carefully preserved its historical aspects, some of which have been recovered and restored to their original appearance after the bombings of 1944.
Moving along, we are led to Riva Trigoso, once a small fishing village and today home to a major shipyard. A common aspect that unites the journey is the landscape: a constant blue that suddenly disappears hidden by the green, to later reappear majestic among rocky cliffs. This is Liguria, with its special charm, unspoiled, with nature reflected in the waves in a warm, colorful embrace.
And so it is that, moving away from the sea for a moment, we climb up through the woods to Casarza Ligure: a different climate, a landscape that differs from the coast making us breathe new air, the mountain that is about to rise above the horizon.
Resuming the coastal path we then find Moneglia, then Deiva Marina that can boast the blue flag on account of the beauty of its seabed. Campsites, ocean and tourism in a place born from the fusion of two small agglomerations.
And still towards the hills we reach Maissana and the Passo delle Cento Croci. Penetrating the Province of La Spezia, not too far away is Framura, then Bonassola and Lèvanto.
We are in the province of La Spezia with our journey into a green land that has perfectly preserved its ancient landscape. At the tollgate exit of Carròdano for those coming from the North or Brugnato coming from the South. Nature dominates the landscape immediately giving an idea of how much respect and attention has been paid to keeping the flora.
Chestnuts, beeches, turkey oaks lying in thick woods make the approach with the place almost wild even if, going inland, the hand of man has provided to soften it.
In fact we find wide cultivated areas, expanses of orchards and vineyards.
A valley rich in history, lost in the centuries where deep traces can still be found.
Remnants of archaic civilizations, obscure and distant populations signed their transit.
The architecture, villages and old buildings are a confirmation of the historical value of the area.
Carròdano is divided in two nuclei: the most ancient one is represented by Carròdano Superiore. Place of legends, like the appearance of the Holy Mary at the sanctuary in Roverano.
The countries follow one another in rapid succession, many stories accompany them, different realities and cultures have marked their development. Sesta Godàno is the center of economic and agricultural activities once known for the pipe manufacturing industry. Followed by Rio, Groppo and Montale. Mario Soldati loved this village and praised its customs, the freshness of the environment and the good wine, produced in different qualities.
The other highway exit is Brugnato. Ancient history confirmed by the presence of necropolis of the sixth century BC. Other inland villages are worth a visit, from Zignago, Sùvero, Calice al Cornoviglio up to Follo.
The charm of the hill that juts out over the sea, a beautiful choreography designed by a romantic painter who has drawn a picture of rare emotional intensity. A unique pearl, pride of the province of La Spezia, destination of international tourism.
Houses and paths suspended between sky and earth, a unique natural spectacle that has remained unspoiled and faithful to maritime tradition.
The journey through the beautiful villages of Cinque Terre begins with the highway exit of Brugnato. Then passing Borghetto Vara, Pignone you get to Monterosso, the first of the five small villages. The particular conformity of the land, carved from the rock, makes the arrival even more suggestive. Tourists are greeted by the statue of the Giant, a Neptune leaning against the cliff almost as if to guard the sea.
And then Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
These locations are united by the famous Via dell’Amore: this path that runs along the sea is the most romantic and significant image of a natural fresco of exceptional charm.
And for lovers of good wine a unique specialty: sciacchetrà made from the thick vineyards which characterize the area. Produced in limited quantities, it is a “white” for real connoisseurs.
The capital of the province, La Spezia, is a busy economic center that has found complete development only recently. There are still strong traces of the Middle Ages with the imposing castle of San Giorgio that still today, restored and open to the public, dominates the city. And also the church of Santa Maria Assunta, once a cathedral.
The proximity of the Republic of Genoa blocked the development of La Spezia, ensuring its control and avoiding the reinforcement of the port to prevent its expansion. The development of the city has a clear foundation in the construction in the early nineteenth century of the military Arsenal entrusted by Cavour to Domenico Chiodo. The city grew around the military structure along with its chief institutions, military hospital, station and industrial activities that are still today a valuable source of revenue and employment. Termomeccanica Italiana and Oto Melara, along with the port of course, are among the most active and important businesses in the Mediterranean. Other local tourist destinations not to be missed can be reached from the exit of La Spezia.
First stop Le Grazie, then Portovenere. Poets have sung its beauty and even today the area retains a great charm and appeal. The imposing church of San Pietro was built on a promontory overlooking the village and Cinque Terre.
A stone’s throw from the marina are three small islands, reachable by sea: Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto.
Leaving the city, you encounter the industrial area of Muggiano, home to large shipyards, to then reach two other well-known seaside towns of significant importance for tourism. First and foremost, San Terenzo. Many intellectuals and poets stayed there, fascinated by the tranquility of the surroundings.
From the medieval castle you can see the pearl of the Gulf: Lerici.
It’s a short drive to the charming town. Sea and tourism represent the main and inexhaustible commercial activity of a place that exudes beauty. Just as accessible in a very short time are two villages: Fiascherino and Tellaro.
A typical characteristic of Liguria is the combination of water and hills always present throughout the Levante area. And so from the waters of the Gulf of Poets you go up to an altitude of 356 meters reaching Montemarcello in the municipality of Ameglia. Recently created the Botanical Garden, conceived and realized by the Park Authority. A green expanse that collects all types of vegetation that characterize the local flora.
A green area that dominates the territory, looking at the blue of the sea, touching the white of the marble quarries of Carrara.
Lunigiana corresponds geographically to the basin of the river Magra, but for its culture, civilization and history it has extended its influence well beyond the narrow limits of the territory that from the pass of Cisa reaches the sea in on Luni valley, at the gates of Carrara.
To visit it you can choose two routes. The first one leaves from Sarzana, runs along the Cisa state road up to S. Stefano Magra, Caprigliola and Aulla from where it is possible to take a detour up to Comano and the Lagastrello pass, after passing through Monti, Licciana Nardi and Bastia.
Once back on the Cisa state road, you will continue northbound towards Villafranca, Filattiera and Pontremoli, with possible detours towards Bagnone and Malgrate or, on the other side of the valley, towards Mulazzo and Montereggio.
The second recommended itinerary starts from the Carrara exit of the A12; it continues towards the nearby Luni and from here, in the direction of Fosdinovo, to then reach Equi Terme, Codiponte and Fivizzano.
From the fertile, urbanized plain, one passes, as one enters the deep Lunigiana, into an environment that has probably remained unchanged for centuries, where the sparse human settlements are made up of small villages and isolated country houses surrounded by woods of chestnut, beech and oak trees and by pastures for cattle and sheep breeding.
There are numerous castles, some open to the public, others private homes, others, unfortunately, in a poor state of preservation. There are many other significant testimonies of the past such as the walled villages, for example Filetto (provincial road Villafranca – Bagnone), the Romanesque churches (Codiponte and Sorano di Filattiera) and the famous Stele Statues that can be admired in the museum of Pontremoli.
Its origins are not certain. It is not known if it was an Etruscan domain or if it was founded by the Romans. It was a colony of Rome since 177 BC, and throughout the imperial period flourished for the marble trade, as well as white marble were made of its walls and its houses.
“Lunae portum, est operae, cognoscite, cives!” (O citizens, visit the port of Luni, which is worth it!), wrote Persius in his VI Satire. But from the fifth century the city began to decay, due to the silting up of the port and the transformation of its territory in malarial swamp.
Devastated by the Lombards first and then by the Normans (who, according to a legend, saw it so beautiful that they mistook it for Rome and took it over with treachery), tormented by the Saracen raids, it held the bishop’s seat until 1204, when all power was transferred to Sarzana, and what remained of the marble palaces ended up stripped and swallowed by the marshes.
Today of Luni emerge only the remains of the amphitheater (first century BC), some stretch of walls and the ancient cathedral of St. Mary. The finds discovered on the spot are preserved in the National Archaeological Museum, built on the same place of the findings.
The most important economic center of Val di Magra is the city of Sarzana.
History, art and culture make it one of the most important reference points of the whole Liguria.
Ancient origins, so much so as to trace its birth to the ashes of Luni. It preserves strong traces of its past: the historical center and the fortifications that made it an impenetrable fortress, within which an intense commercial and exchange life outlined the characters of the town.
A city on a human scale that has developed over time reaching first-rate entrepreneurial, touristic and economic capacities that have soon contributed to make Sarzana an important pole in continuous evolution. Bound and faithful to the tradition that is still manifested in its beautiful streets of the center and buildings of every century: from the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the church of St. Andrew, the oldest monument from around here, from the Fortress of Sarzanello to the Citadel developing a distinct identity and contributing to its growth.
A stone’s throw from the sea, with the Marinella coastline that has always been a tourist center, and the old estate that recalls black and white atmospheres with its crops and milk production. An important junction: the exit of Sarzana in fact allows you to reach in a very short time not only the nearby seaside resorts but also the peaks of the Apuan Alps and the Apennines that characterize the horizon. To visit the Degli Impavidi theater, a hidden jewel of 1809.
The last center of the province of La Spezia is Ortonovo that preserves the ruins of one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world: Luni.
A range of mountain ridges that stand out clearly and imposingly against the rest of the Apennines, the Apuan Alps are a strong attraction for those passing through on the A12.
This landscape with its places here and there still intact and the quarries that sculpt its slopes, is at least two thousand years old. It is, in fact, since the second century BC that is practiced the extraction of marble, in Roman times was a job for slaves and offenders convicted of serious crimes.
The activity slowed down during the high Middle Ages and then resumed at full speed after the year one thousand. In the first half of the XVI century Michelangelo came several times to Carrara to choose the stone for his masterpieces.
For centuries now, Carrara marble has established itself as a precious building stone both for its white and colored varieties (bardiglio, paonazzo, fior di pesco, cipollino, arabescato, etc.).
For a visit to the Apuan Alps, from the Carrara exit, head towards Campocecina from where you can have a wide view of the quarries below and follow the phases of transportation of the marble downstream. Before descending towards Carrara, do not forget to make a detour to Colonnata, home of the famous lard. Other interesting destinations of our excursion towards the quarries are the areas of Fantiscritti, Pian della Fioba and Isolasanta, all in the territory of the municipality of Massa.
The world capital of marble. Its history, its great expansion is linked to tradition, to the hard work and sacrifice of a population that has been able to exploit with extreme will a unique resource.
A natural spectacle, a white sea accompanies visitors to the famous quarries overlooking Carrara.
The city center is a modern building nucleus that draws life from the monument represented by the big quarries, around which the economic activity of the area revolves. An example of the architecture of Carrara is represented by the Teatro degli Animosi and the Academy of Fine Arts which is located in the ancient residence of the Cybo-Malaspina.
Of the small villages clinging to the spurs of the Apuan Alps, we remember Colonnata, famous for its lard and Campocecina from where the view extends to the sea.
Marina di Carrara has wide beaches and bathing establishments that anticipate Versilia and above all its port, the most important in Italy for the stone industry.
And to give an idea of the tradition and culture of marble, it is enough to remember that for over twenty years entrepreneurs and companies from all over the world have been meeting in Marina di Carrara for the International Fair of Marble and Machinery.
Reunited administratively with Carrara, the city of Massa remains strongly divided by history and vocation. Ancient traces characterize the rise of the center, which has in the Malaspina castle an image immersed in the eleventh century. The architectural tradition finds continuation in the modern structure of the center even if the hillside hamlets still preserve an ancient flavor.
To visit the thermal station of San Carlo, Antona, Pian della Fioba and the group of houses grouped around an artificial lake in Isolasanta. In a setting dominated by the snow-white marble of the Apuan Alps, the villages preserve their own identity, the cult of traditions that have marked the rhythm of time.
From the city of Massa you can quickly move to the sea of the tourist and renowned Marina di Massa. An urban center of recent formation, dominated by the tower of the Fiat colony, twin of the one built at Sestriere. Up to the Ronchi, the last stretch that then opens to Versilia, the beach is the real protagonist of the scene. And from the Province of Massa Carrara we move on to the holiday area par excellence: Versilia.
The land of fun, of the myth of the sixties, of the endless summer and of everything that revolves around vacations and fun.
The sun, the beautiful sea and the crazy Carnival are among the most famous attractions.
Suffice it to think that tradition marks the beginning of Versilia’s history with an illustrious funeral. That of the poet Percy B. Shelley who drowned following the sinking of his boat. His remains were cremated on the beach and since then, according to legend, the presence of the poet hovers along the coast between Cinquale and Lake Massaciuccoli.
A land always loved by intellectuals and artists developed with the precise imprint of elite.
And from Forte dei Marmi, Marina di Pietrasanta, Camaiore and Viareggio tourism is a must, in every season.
From the highway exit the first encounter is with Forte dei Marmi: elegant center, dotted and embellished with villas, meeting place and destination for fans of nightlife with trendy clubs.
And, to preserve tradition with culture, every year the Tuscan sagacity manifests itself with the Political Satire Award.
After Seravezza, center of stone production, we reach Pietrasanta, built as a military stronghold and then linked to marble.
A visit to Valdicastello Carducci, the birthplace of the poet, then from Marina di Pietrasanta the road opens up to the rhythm of the night. From the Capannina to Le Focette and Lido di Camaiore, there is a succession of the legendary clubs of the 50s and 60s frequented by the young people of that time who have ideally passed the baton to future generations. Poetry and music in the nearby Torre del Lago: Villa Puccini still attracts fans of the great master’s works.
A dip in history in Camaiore before entering the real temple of fun: Viareggio. Land of the Carnival that fascinates the world and of the Prize of literature, good living room of the elegant Versilia. And of course the beach and exclusive establishments that follow one another in a whirlwind of colors. An excursion on Lake Massaciucoli through the typical marsh vegetation on wooden walkways leads to an ornithological observatory.
Elegant and refined Viareggio is one of the most famous places on the Versilia coast and a destination for world tourism. The center of fun, home of Carnival and nighttime sophistication with its cutting-edge, high-class venues.
The lights of the night give way to a lively and colorful landscape in the summer, the beautiful sunsets and tranquility in the winter period. Anyway, Viareggio is never far from the spotlight being able to offer, in any season of the year, different reasons of tourist attraction.
The historical traditions are limited in time: its name derives from the tower of Via Regìa that the Lucchese erected around the fifteenth century when the port, once arranged and made functional the mouth of Burlamacca began to come alive and start the first economic exchanges. But only centuries later did real industrial growth begin, based mainly on shipyards.
The sea, the great ally of the people of Viareggio, was the springboard for the creation of boats used by fishermen. The development, the growth has changed horizons and business philosophy and now in the same shipyards are designed and built boats and yachts of great value.
But tourism is still the business card of the city: it is enough to think that at the beginning of 1900 the cabins already reached 3000 units to understand the unrestrained escalation of one of the most elite seaside resorts in Italy. A fusion between the green hills and pine forests and the blue sea make the landscape unique, as well as the Carnival. A long parade of floats ignites the passion of a city that prepares for the event for an entire year: customs, current events, politics are the topics that trigger the imagination of true professionals of the joy. The Carnival was born in 1873 and has reached a world stage equal to the homonymous festival in Rio.
Another milestone of Viareggio’s tradition is the Literature Prize founded in 1929 by Leonida Repaci and which still follows the evolution of our literature. The architecture does not present particular characteristics, made homogeneous by the liberty style of soft shapes designed by the architect Belluomini and the ceramics of Galileo and Chino Chini. To visit tower Matilde and Shelley square where stands the bust of the poet.
Leaving behind Versilia, you arrive in Lucca, exiting at the junction of Viareggio and taking the A11, which is part of the same highway system.
The city is easily identifiable by its walls, an unmistakable sign of the history of the beautiful center. They are strong bastions that have defended the city from every siege over the centuries and still today represent an enchanting backdrop and tourist attraction. The ring of walls protects the historical heart of the city: the cathedral.
Medieval and Renaissance art are preserved in their original lines, intact and fascinating.
In the society of Lucca, the villa has always been a stable point of reference, an essential characteristic of the environment. Villa Buonvisi or Bottini, immersed in the green of a large garden or Villa Santini today Torrigiani are excellent examples of Renaissance structures. As are Villa Reale and Cenami that rise in the surroundings.
There are green parks that contribute to the ornamental effect and elegant appearance of the city.
The Maritime Republic of Pisa, home to one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the world, is a cradle of art, history and literature. And it has an equally well-known and unmistakable symbol: the Leaning Tower.
A cylinder of 293 steps designed in 1173 to embellish the square flanking the Baptistery and Cathedral in the Campo dei Miracoli. Halfway through the work, the first subsidence due to the lowering of the water table and hence the inclination that has made it a symbol, history and curiosity, the destination of an extraordinary tourist pilgrimage.
A city that already in 1400 began an important economic development, making it one of the most advanced and powerful in Italy.
You can breathe art with authentic treasures still preserved, from the illustrious paintings, to the sculptural art of the highest quality that shape and adorn the spaces.
Museums, churches and palaces dominate the historical center following step by step the visit of one of the most envied and admired European cities, crossed by the Arno river.
The Pisa coastline is a natural park, a green area that begins at the northern exit of Pisa at Macchia di Migliarino.
Further south there is the estate of San Rossore, belonging to the Region of Tuscany. And then the Certosa di Pisa in Calci and the thermal baths of San Giuliano before returning to the coast in Marina di Pisa and the pine forest of Tirrenia and closing with a dip in the charm of the Middle Ages with a trip to Cascina.
The estate of San Rossore has an ancient history: originally it was an imperial forest then it became the property of the Medici and later passed to the Savoy.
Today it belongs to the Region of Tuscany, and is open for large parts to the public.
It is about 3,000 hectares of woodland, one of the last intact strips of coastal forest in our country, which is currently part of the Park of Migliarino-San Rossore established by the Tuscany Region in 1979 and still at the center of troubled events. The constitution of the Park has contributed to the protection of a coastline strongly characterized by the presence of tourism and an intense process of urbanization.
Thanks to this intervention, the area has largely preserved its primitive appearance and is now an example of ecological balance that was once typical of the entire Tuscan coastal strip.
Inside there is a conspicuous fauna (wild boars, fallow deer, roe deer, migratory birds), including some specimens of dromedaries, acclimatized here for several decades. Along the avenues of the estate you can reach the Castle of Sterpaia and the small villa of Gombo, almost on the sea; but the main interest of the places is naturalistic.
The city of the Four Moors has such a recent history that it is one of the youngest in Italy.
But it has a lively, cosmopolitan spirit that is affected by the accents, influences and grafts of foreign cultures and civilizations. It’s just the many and different situations lived that accelerated the development of Livorno, projecting a city fought by different events to a dynamic, active and absolutely free and enterprising center.
Maritime city but above all port, with a productivity at the highest levels so as to make the port among the most important of the Mediterranean.
That apparently sleepy center hides will, determination and precise objectives: a strong character, typical and ironic, cultivates interests and projects itself with confidence among the main cities of Tuscany.
An airy and modern urban layout with an ancient heart that bears witness to history, while the architecture preserves the passage of different cultures and follows one another in a corollary of palaces, churches, fortresses, bridges and neighborhoods.
The art museums such as the Civic, Archaeological, Risorgimento and Provincial Museum of Natural History, the villas and libraries collect and jealously guard heritages from various eras. And then the traditional canals that weave around the Fosso Reale, in the neighborhood that could only be called Venice. The squares, markets, traditional and characteristic villages offer unique reasons of interest to visitors. We cannot forget the authoritative presence of the Naval Academy, established in 1881 by Admiral Brin with the fusion of the already existing and operating Sardinian and Neapolitan naval schools, from whose selective courses still today the cadres of the Italian Navy come out.
Near the Academy stretches the seaside Livorno with its Art Nouveau villas scattered along the coast and still the center of Ardenza and Antignano to the other famous vacation resort: Castiglioncello. From the sea to the inland going up to reach the famous sanctuary of Montenero.