There are plenty of things to do in Lunigiana. Extending from stunning coastline to the mountains, incorporating lakes, history and museums, large towns to tiny abandoned hamlets, artisan producers to major shopping centres, there really is something for everyone. Here are just a few examples.
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Taking the waters
The ancient spa town of Equi is just at the bottom of the hill from the Villa. The salt-sulphate-alkaline mineral water averages a very pleasant 25°C at source and in a medical context is typically used for the treatment of respiratory illnesses and for ear, nose and throat problems, other than for skin and osteoarticular conditions. Depending on your pathology the waters can be taken in a number of ways, as inhalations, steam baths etc.
A rather more indulgent way of benefitting from these prized waters is to enjoy swimming in them at the very large outdoor pool. Sun-loungers and parasols may be hired and a bar is available.
Just walking upstream from Equi you will find glorious bathing pools created along the river. The crystal-clear mountain water is a joy in the midst of summer.
Other swimming pools, but of the chlorinated and turquoise variety, are available at nearby Cormezzano in the summer season. A large pool with diving boards and a separate small children’s pool will keep the kids amused for hours. Simple and basic but hugely popular with the locals and you can hire loungers and parasols.
Explore pre-historic caves
Just over the road from the spa pools in Equi are a real gem; the Caves. They owe their formation to the erosive force of water that over millennia has carved pools, gullies, cavities and underground lakes. They span almost 1,000 meters and are divided into three parts: the first is the larger dry entry ‘hall’, the second is a series of ‘rooms’ each with displays of stalagmites, stalactites and other fantastical features created by the water and the last area is suitable for expert cavers only.
Guided tours through the Caves are held regularly throughout the summer season.
It’s also worth noting that the caves are wonderfully cool inside – even in August you will need to take a sweater with you.
After enjoying the caves you can follow one or more of the geo-nature trails in the area.
There is a large Outlet offering discount prices on well-known brands just off the A12 motorway at Brugnato (heading towards the Ligurian coastline)Shopinn Brugnato 5 Terre
Both La Spezia and Sarzana have a good selection of shops along pedestrian streets in the centre of town as well as larger stores on the outskirts of town.
The lovely town of Fivizzano offers a full range of small and independently run shops as well as the best cake shop (pasticerria) in the area. Sit in the piazza and enjoy coffee and cake served at your table.
Most markets in the region open just in the mornings, usually tidying away by 1pm, so it’s worth being organised. Markets nowadays generally sell everything from locally produced fruit and vegetables, plants and flowers, cheeses, sometimes meat and fish, kitchen-ware, clothing and footwear. Usually full of character as well as the local characters, they are always worth a browse especially if you can take your time to just enjoy being out amongst the locals; it doesn’t matter if you don’t need to buy anything.
Mon-Thurs: La Spezia (especially for fresh food).
Wednesday: Pontremoli and Forte di Marmi (renowned for cashmere and very expensive designer goods).
Thursday: Sarzana (all day).
Friday: La Spezia (all day).
Saturday: Aulla, Pontremoli & Lerici.
The nearest ski-resort is Cerreto Laghi.
Set in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park, Cerreto Laghi encircles an Apennine lake of glacial origin at the foot of Mount La Nuda. In addition to its beautiful natural scenery, the resort offers skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding and also boasts an Olympic size ice skating rink. Equipment can be hired on site 10 downhill slopes cover approx. 30 kilometers and combined with the excellent Ski-School make it an ideal option for children and beginners. Plenty of restaurants and bars.
To reach Cerreto Laghi follow the SS63 towards and beyond Fivizzano.Cerreto Laghi
Lakes & rivers
There are several beautiful lakes nearby.
The rivers here are fed by the winter snow on the mountains to the north and in the heat of the summer they provide sheer joy.
At Equi Terme, just a few minutes from the villa, take a picnic and follow the river along until you find a quiet rock pool and spend the afternoon cooling off in the beautiful clear waters.
Coast, sea & beaches
The coastline of Lunigiana is very varied but all beautiful. Sandy beaches in the south give way to the coves, bays and cliffs in the north as you approach Liguria. Some of the closest beaches to the Villa are some of the most beautiful and famous: Il Golfo dei Poeti and Le Cinque Terre.
The Bay of Poets is so named as this area was adored by the likes of Shelley, Byron and D H Lawrence, and is also where Dante reputedly wrote much of The Divine Comedy some 500 years earlier. On one side of the bay are Lerici, San Terenzo and Tellaro – voted the prettiest village in Italy – while on the other is Portovenere, with the three islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto) at it’s tip.
The coast then leads on to the stunning villages of the Cinque Terre. Monterosso –Vernazza – Corniglia – Manarola – Riomaggiore. You can walk between the villages or take the train from La Spezia. You may be fortunate and find a parking spot, but driving is generally not recommended.Portovenere, Cinque Terre & the Islands
There are many walks in the area and this is becoming an increasingly popular pastime and way to explore the area.
There are many well sign-posted trails through both the wooded hills of this area or along the ridge of the Apennine mountains and it is possible to do these as self-guided or with a guide.
There is also, curiously, an old pilgrim trail that once linked Rome to Canterbury! Known as The Via Francigena you can follow in the footsteps of untold numbers of pilgrims to Rome and walk along some of the tracts closer by.
It wasn’t until the discovery in the 1980’s of a travel journal by abbot Sigerico (Bishop of Canterbury in 990AD) that it was possible to piece together this actual route. Sigerico catalogued 80 stops between Rome and Canterbury: 587 miles in Italy and 15 stops in the region of Tuscany.
Swinging through an obstacle course high up in the trees!! And why not?
This is a great alternative to the usual day at the beach Offering 6 aerial obstacle courses with different levels ranging from children’s courses to extreme adults, there are more than 50 different obstacles and 200 meters of zip-wires, this is enormous fun in the forest!
A Bungee Trampoline, Archery and a purpose-built Mountain Bike Course (bring your own bike or hire in situ) are also available. The Adventure Park Fosdinovo overlooks the castle Malaspina, the gulf of Portovenere and is easily accessible from the main road and with parking available.Adventure Park Fosdinovo
High walks & zip wires
High walks and zip-wires are also available at the Bio-Diversity Conservation Centre at the BioParc at Frignoli. This modern nature sanctuary is suited to family days out as there are many different areas to keep active minds amused as you relax in the natural setting. Includes a small arboretum, trout and prawn farming, large open air pond with a tunnel to admire the fish, botanical garden and woodland walks along with picnic facilities and the zip-wires.
To reach Bioparco I Frignoli follow the SS63 towards and then 12km beyond Fivizzano.
Bioparco I Frignoli is operated by the same sustainability-centered organisation as the Caves at Equi Terme and combined entrance tickets are available at a discout.Bioparco l Frignoli
Strada del vino
This is an itinerary that winds through the vineyards of the area, across unspoilt beautiful landscapes, of cultivated fields, vineyards and ancient chestnut woods. The route takes in Fosdinovo, Ceserano, San Terenzo Monti, Fivizzano and Aulla then follows the Magra (river) up towards Pontremoli, passing towers country churches, castles and country houses along the way.
You will encounter a wide variety in grapes grown in the area, Abarola , Sangiovese , Ciliegiolo, Vermentino, Malvasia and Merlot being amongst the most common.
The high quality of wine produced here is attested to by the DOC guarantee to two wines: “Candia di Colli Apuani” from the hills of Massa Carrara & Montignoso, and “Colli di Luna” from the hills of Fosdinovo, Podenzana & Caprigliola.
Val di Magra wines have IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) classification and the whole area is part of IGT Tuscany.Wine trails of Tuscany
All of these activities will be arranged individually for you. Some activities can be held at the Villa, whereas some you will need to travel to. Prices are dependant on season, duration, number of participants, whether just a one-off session or an hour or more every day.