The most important village of Garfagnana is Castelnuovo in Garfagnana, a charming fortified village with stunning views and great atmosphere. Castelnuovo was home of the poet Ludovico Ariosto, from the importante family of Modena that runned this region, when he was governor of the Garfagnana. The Fortress of Ariosto is still intact even after the bombardment durino the Second World War. The fortress dates back from the 12th century, but received many new features along the time, specially durino the Renaissance.
In the centre of the villane you find the Cathedral dedicated to Saint Peter and Paul. Along the way up, the charming narrow streets show the exciting life of this town, in fact there are many shops, groceries, cafes with tables outdoor, wine shops and the fantastic mini markets with all typical products of the area.
Every Thursday there is the street market, the largest and most important of Garfagnana. It sells not only food, vegetables and fruits but also clothes, gifts, objects for the housekeeping, and much more. It is such an experience…
Under the Town Hall archways, often are organized many kinds of events and festivals of the local products. For example in the fall when it is period of the chestnuts - the most important product and the symbol of this area - they present their typical dishes and desserts made with chestnut and, the most interesting, the chestnut flour! Yes, the chestnut here is used to make a kind of flour that can be used for any kind of preparation, even PASTA... There is a typical cake made with chestnut flour called "castagnaccio".
The "funghi porcini", local kind of mushroom of brown colour and strong delicious fragrance, that grows in the whole Tuscany but specially in the woods - and Garfagnana has so many intact woods - can be found fresh during the fall in the small local groceries; the same for the chestnuts and many other kinds of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices.
With all this good products to eat, it can not miss what to drink! And the best to match with chestnuts, funghi porcini, chestnut flour pasta and graet quality prosciuto (ham) is certainly Tuscan wine! Specially red wine... and for that, Castelnuovo in Garfagnana offers a large, modern and really well supplied Enoteca (wine shop)... you will find from the local Montecarlo wine of the Colline Lucchesi to the most rich and full bodied Tuscan wines like Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico and many others, among them the important Supertuscans.
Meat and cheese are both very typical products of the mountains, specially this region has great swine products like "prosciuto crudo" and salami. A picture of this shop does not say too much about it, because what is more impressive - and delicius - is the smell, so you must come and smell it yourself!
Better than smell is certainly TASTE! In fact, at Castelnuovo in Garfagnana, right along the street that surrounds the fortress you will find the "bottega" (grocery) of Andrea Bertucci, this pleasant and accommodatin host who offers a real immersion in the world of this excellent Tuscan products. Upon request he will guide you through a wine, cheese and ham tasting, with some bread and explanation about the traditions of this land.
Andrea is a really well known person in the region, and receives often important guests... we encountered the President of the Province of Lucca when we went there to take some pictures!
Great restaurants with home made pasta, quality food, great wines and reasonable prices don't miss in this area... Specially Il Ciulè, within walking distance of our Tuscan farmhouse VILLA DI SOPRA present in this website. The specialty of this restaurant is home made pasta and pizza cooked in the wood burning oven.
In the Town Hall of Castelnuovo is also possible to celebrate a civil wedding! There is a very beautiful room inside this historic building with the possibility to invite your guests... We can indicate you a wedding planner and get more information upon request.
OTHER VILLAGES IN GARFAGNANA:
A tour of the Garfagnana will reveal you many hidden spots like in a fairy tale... rivers that go through woods and hills, ancient stone bridges that lead you to enchanting small towns where people life trully the country style of life. The most impressive feature of the Garfagnana is certainly the "Ponte del Diavolo", the Devil's Bridge, that crosses the river Serchio by the town of Borgo a Mozzano.
Its origins are made of history and legends and its beautiful architecture offers a plus that is its reflection in the basin of water, that creates an evn more fairy scenary.
Also of interest are the fortifications of the Gothic Line; the Gothic Cathedral and the palaces of Roncini, Santini and Pellegrini - in honour of these vicars of the town - and the Monte Agliale observatory which is open to the public. Besides, every April to open the Spring there is the exhibition of the Azalea.
Fabbriche di Vallico - the charming medieval hamlet that takes name from the local blacksmiths who came from the forested area. This village offers beautiful buldings with loggias and doorways, dating back from the 16th century. The most interesting feature of this town is certainly its "mule saddle" bridge, that can be seen by the old Customs House in the border between the Duchy of Modena (to which this area belonged) and the Republic of Lucca.
From Fabbriche di Vallico it is easy to reach the Alto Matanna area, which is near to the ridge of the Apuano. Lovers of the mountains and trekking, can complete some of the best excursions in the Apuane Alps from there, finishing at the mountains of Forato and Procinto.
The following reading might also interest you: Garfagnana and Chestnuts
OUR TUSCAN VILLAS: