A perfect itinerary to have fun on motorbike and discover the hidden treasures of Garfagnana, at the border of Liguria and few kilometres away from Cinque Terre, from Lucca and Pisa.
In Lunigiana, Aulla is our first stop, direction south-west, along SS63 (the A road heading to Reggio Emilia through the pass of Cerreto). It has a stretegic position between the Cisa pass, pass of Cerreto, Lagastrello and on the road for Casola and Garfagnana, so it’s a perfect start for many motorbike trips. Almost completely destroyed by a second war world bombing, the borgo offers many activities and attractions, historical and cultural ones, like the famous Fortezza della Brunella, a Renaissance military construction. All info here: Aulla in Lunigiana – Toscana in moto tra i Borghi medievali.
After about 12 kilometres, we turn right direction Gassano, along the Strada Regione of Garfagnana SR445, which becomes more curvy and more funny for our two wheels. You have to drive conscientiously because there are many bends and turns. The landscape is amazing: nature, woods and unique views pleasing us for over 45 kilometres before reaching Piazza al Serchio, an ancient medieval borgo, where you can admire the “Doglioni rocciosi“(naturally occurring stone peaks).
A TIME TRAVEL
You can live a time travel at Fortezza di Verrucole, in San Romano in Garfagnana. Located on a rocky hill, the fortress became the center of the dispute between Lucca, Florence and Estensi family for its position during raids and battles in the area. Wandering around the fortress you can visit the passageways, the kitchens, the chapel, the family residence, the basement and the tinderbox. From the terrace you have a fantastic view of Garfagnana: from Orecchiella Park Appennino to the Pania of Corfino, including Pisanino and other peaks of Alps Apuane. Foto Fortezza di Verrucole: di MarcoPistolozzi, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0.
After our time trevel, we head to Castelnuovo in Garfagnana, the most important center of this wonderful land. To notice is the Rocca Ariostesca, a medieval castle now renovated with a beautiful terrace on the main square. Worth a visit is the Duomo, built in XV century on the remains of a Romanesque church dated XI century. The Fortezza di Mont’Alfonso is easy to reach, the last garrison town of the duke of Ferrara. We have to add that Castelnuovo is the perfect point to explore natural beauties of Parco dell’Orecchiella and Parco Regionale delle Alpi Apuane.
We suggest to include in the trip Isola Santa, a recovery place for travellers built in 1260. The borgo is 550 metres above sea level overlooking an artificial lake filled with the waters of Turrite Secca’s creek. Every ten years the basin is emptied so the remains of the village can resurface, especially a mill and a stone bridge. Foto di Isola Santa: di Sailko, wikimedia CC BY 3.0.
During the trip, as always, we become more hungry at every bend and stop so let’s see the must-eat delicacies.
- The Spelt, especially in a soup (delicious in every season).
- The Polenta di Formenton Otto File, an ancient type of corn flour, served with mushrooms
- the Neccio, chestnut pancakes rolled up and filled with fresh ricotta.
- The Crisciolette, typical of Cascio, are cooked in the same way of neccio on cotte or iron cast testi (cooking tools), these ones are greasy with lard and the dough is a mix of corn and wheat flour.
- Fritters and cagio, served in pastry boats with tastes of cheese
- Salami: the Biroldo, made with the head of the pig, lungs, heart, tongue and pieces of lard; the Mondiola, very fine, is a cured meats with a soft consistency and a spicy and pleasant scent, from the mixture obtained by grinding the meat.