Montignoso is the name of a municipality that's made up of several unique hamlets in an area that's doubly embraced by the mountains and the sea, spreading from the Versilia coast to the summit of Pasquilio. Piazza is the main town and administrative headquarters of the territory of Montignoso, characterized by an exceptional variety of landscapes and forms part of the Apuan Park protected area.
There are various interpretations by scholars on the origin of the name, some theorise that it relates to the custom of lighting fires on the mountain to form reference points for sailors. As a result, the fires would have illuminated the town and it would have been called Mons Igneus, or "mountain of fire".
Nature continues to surprise as you head up into the mountains.
Pasquilio is home to many unique landscapes, beloved by poets like Ungaretti and Montale. Because of its position, during WWII it was a place of refuge and conflict. These woods, where much work by the Resistance was conducted, is where the Gothic Line used to run, the long fortification established by the Germans to keep the Allies from advancing.
At the Villa Schiff Giorgini, a 19th-century residence with a splendid garden, there’s a museum that serves as a documentation centre about wartime events in this area. The institution conserves helmets, uniforms and ammunition, as well as priceless video recordings of survivors and their stories.
Among the historic buildings that stand out in this area, the best known is perhaps the Aghinolfi Castle, a mighty defense bulwark with a particular octagonal shape and great strategic importance, due to its proximity to the sea and the underlying Via Francigena; in 1945 it was occupied by a Nazi garrison, becoming one of the main strongholds of the Gothic Line.
There’s also the Church of Sant’Eustachio, built in 1495, still home to two 15th-century paintings and a wooden sculpture from the 1300s, probably made by the Pisan school. The Church of San Vito e San Modesto is even older, and conserves a triptych altarpiece by the Lucca-based painter Michele Ciampanti.
Lake Porta is a protected wetland where there are also rare and endangered species such as the butterfly, Lycaena dispar. At the beginning of autumn on the shores of this swamp, swallows rest en masse, gathering before leaving for their long migrations and offering a unique spectacle.
In Cinquale di Montignoso, just 3 kilometers from the centre of Forte dei Marmi, you can enjoy a wellness centre and an exceptional spa: the Versilia thermal baths.
Also in Cinquale, you'll find the Green Beach, a free space that's open to all and with easy access for people with disabilities or motor difficulties.
Montignoso sausages are one of the most requested and appreciated typical products of the area, with a cylindrical shape of about 3 cm, they are made using spiced pork.
Another unique product is Morocco Bread, made with corn flour and olives. This recipe has been handed down for centuries and is linked to the traditional economy when this type of flour was more readily available and less expensive than wheat flour.