Born and grew up in Lunigiana, historic area in Northern Tuscany at the border with Parma and the Cinque Terre region. An under-the-radar destination that unveils its beauty only to an attentive observer.
I myself never appreciated living here and left to move to the city first and then abroad (read more about my story of Dropping everything and move abroad).
Only after many years far from Home I have decided to come back and since then started to discover all these gorgeous places close to Home.
Three in particular are my favourite places that I often go to and I’ve realized they are all connected to water, the element that best represents me.
The Tuscan Emilian Apennine National Park
From the window of the house I grew up at and still live today, I see in the distance the peaks of the Apennines.
I never really paid attention to them and only decided to visit few years ago, when with some friends we set off for a 2-day hike.
I must admit my first experience in the Apennines was quite a drama since the weather changed suddenly and didn’t allow us to put our tents as planned, forcing us to walk for 12 hours with heavy backpacks in terrible weather conditions.
My soared legs remembered this experience for days afterwards and I still laugh today when looking back at it. Despite this, I fell in love with these mountains close to Home and I’ve been returning each year ever since.
This experience has taught me that hiking is like a metaphor of our life journey: uphill, strenous but also very rewarding.
The Apennines Park is quite big and offers many different hiking trails of various length and difficulty, my favourite one is the path leading to the Sillara Lakes, twin glacial lakes surrounded by endless blueberry groves.
You can reach them by a 2:30-3 hour hike starting off at Pratospilla, a small mountain location in the province of Parma.
Why I love the Apennines so much?
Because there is absolutely nobody! You can come up here in August and walk on your own for hours hardly meeting any other hikers.
I love its pristine lanscapes beautiful in every season, from the wild flower blossoming in Spring to the Autumn foliage.
But most of all, I love to sit on top of one of its lookouts overlooking the valley where I live and the gaze stretching as far as the sea of the Gulf of the Poets. This breathtaking panorama gives me such a feeling of freedom as if I was on top of the world, my world.
Bagnone and its river
For those like us living midway between the mountains and the seaside (half an hour each way), it is not uncommon to opt for the river instead of the beach in summer.
There are indeed many reasons to prefer the river to the beach, first of all because it is close (only 5 minutes from Home), not crowded and more fresh.
In Lunigiana, where we live, there are many beautiful spots at the riverside with natural pools and waterfallsthat makes you feel in an exotic location rather than in Tuscany 🙂
One of our favourites is Bagnone, with the village of the same name.
Bagnone is a fairytale medieval village perched on the rocks and featuring a picturesque bridge called Ponte Vecchio (yes, like the one in Florence 🙂
We often come here for a walk and a gelato, especially in the summer nights.
But also, we go to its riverside, a perfect place to refresh during the hot italian summer days.
This is also where I am used to come to regenerate when I’m feeling sad or troubled, sitting by the river to read or dancing and letting my worries and sorrows drift away with the water flow.
Tellaro: seaside both in summer and winter
Tellaro is a charming village in the Gulf of the Poets (only 30 minute drive from Home) that has nothing to envy to the nearby more popular Cinque Terre villages.
Both Miles and I are affectionate to this place for different reasons.
Miles’s father is originally from Tellaro and that’s where Miles was born, thought his parents moved to the countryside when he was only 2 years old.
I used to ride my mophed here with my best friend at high school when we wanted to “escape” the city (at that time I used to attend school in La Spezia).
So any time Miles and I decide to go to the beach, we both agree Tellaro is our place.
There is no beach but only rocks and a small marina where the boats of the local people are kept (though tourists often use this ares to lay in the sun 🙂
We sometimes borrow our friend’s rowing boat and explore the nearby inlets and grottos, a unique landscape that makes us feel in one of the dreamy Thai islands.
A curiosity about Tellaro is that it is called the village of the octopus because, according to a legend, one octopus climbed on top of the bell tower to advise the villagers that the pirates were coming, saving them from the Saracens’ attack.
Tellaro is also a lovely place to come during winter, strolling along its carrugi (small lanes), and in particular to assist to the underwater nativity on the 24th of December.
The village is dotted with candles and just before midnight subs carry the statue of Jesus Christ out of the sea and into the church, representing the nativity.
After that, amazing fireworks are displayed reflecting on the colorful house façades and the sea. An impressive event not to be missed.
The Lunigiana area is in Northern Tuscany and comprises 14 municipalities of the Province of Massa Carrara (including Bagnone as above), however in the past it used to stretch as far as Pietrasanta and the Cinque Terre, making it a whole territory under the Romans rule.
You can reach it by car (highway A15 from Parma/Milan or A12 from Livorno/Genoa) or by train (lines Parma-La Spezia, Milano-Livorno, Pontremoli-Firenze/Pisa).
For further information about the area, local events, accommodations or tours www.visitlunigiana.it
The Tuscan Emilian Apennine National Park (also Man & Biosphere Reserve since 2015) covers 2 different Regions (Tuscany and Emilia Romagna) and 4 provinces ((Massa Carrara, Lucca, Parma, Reggio Emilia) so you can access it from many different villages and explore it by foot thanks to a wide range of hiking trails.
Tellaro is in the province of La Spezia and the so-called Gulf of the Poets since it has inspired and hosted various writers and poets, such as P.B. Shelley and D.H. Lawrence.
You can reach it by car from La Spezia and Lerici, however keep in mind that during peak season parking can be quite difficult, especially during weekends in summer.