Photo ©Davide Papalini
Piazza al Serchio
A collection of mountain towns between the Garfagnana, Emilia Romagna and Lunigiana

Piazza al Serchio is located where the roads connecting Garfagnana, Lunigiana and Emilia Romagna converge. It's an area characterized by the presence of numerous small hamlets, all uniquely beautiful, many of which are enclosed within the two original arms of the Serchio river: Soraggio and Minucciano. The beauty of the territory, boasting rolling hills and mountains and protected in part by the presence of the Orecchiella Park, make Piazza al Serchio the perfect place for nature and hiking enthusiasts, as well as a solid starting point for discovering the Garfagnana.

The name of Piazza al Serchio comes from a large, open space designated in the Middle Ages to the markets that were occasionally held in this area, an agora that was once where the current train station is located. The name of the river was eventually added to the town’s name.

What to see in Piazza al Serchio

The village's origins date back to the pre-Roman era, though several archaeological remains from the Lombard erahave also been discovered. During the Middle Ages, Piazza al Serchio experienced a period of great economic growth, encouraged by its geographical position. Under the control of the Bishop of Lucca until the eighteenth century, it then passed into the hands of the Duke of Modena until the unification of Italy.
Until 1863, the Municipality was called Pieve di Castelvecchio, after a medieval castle castrum vetus, located on top of a doglione, one of the large volcanic cones that define the character of this town's landscape (appearing like protagonists in many photos).

Amongst the most importan monuments, it's worth mentioning the beautiful San Michel bridge at the entrance to the town, and the parish church of San Pietro that preserves a bell from 1271, found during recent archaeological excavations.

In 2019, the Museo Italiano dell’Immaginario Folklorico was inaugurated, dedicated to fairy tales, legends, beliefs, documents and evidence that details the territory's past. The museum preserves thousands of unpublished tales from popular tradition, not only from the surrounding area, but also from other Italian regions, that can be consulted with the help of multimedia.

Nearby

Piazza al Serchio is located along the Via del Volto Santo, that departs from Pontremoli and crosses Tuscany to reach Lucca. It takes in Lunigiana and Garfagnana and the Mid Serchio Valley, until it reaches the wooden statue of the Holy Face, kept in the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca.

Heading south-east from the village, you reach the small town of Verrucole, where you can see the Verrucole Fortress, an important medieval site built by the Gherardini family in the 11th-12th century. In addition to being a beautiful viewpoint over the Garfagnana and the Apuan Alps, it's also the perfect destination for a trip with children, due to the living museum set up inside.

Near Piazza al Serchio is the village of Camporgiano with its Civic Collection of Renaissance Ceramics, exhibited in the main tower of the Este fortress. In the museum, there are ceramics from the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries that give evidence of the dominion of the Este family in Garfagnana.

The Orecchiella Park, with its magnificent forests of beech, chestnut and fir trees, is an important State Nature Reserve equipped with trails for trekking (also suitable for those with disabilities and families with small children), for mountain bike excursions and for horseback riding. The Visitor Center is located in San Romano in Garfagnana, where you'll also find the Naturalistic Museum and the Museum of Birds of Prey, as well as the garden of mountain flowers.
The park also includes the Pania di Corfino Nature Reserve, a limestone massif that houses a Botanical Garden with a collection of local species.

Events

A highlight among the events that take place annually in this area is the Fiera di San Pietro. Held on the Sunday closest to June 28th, the festival is an opportunity to taste some of the best local products and typical dishes.

In the nearby town of Sant’Anastasio, the Farro (spelt) Festival is held in mid-July, dedicated to one of the best-known products of the area.

Typical products

Piazza al Serchio and the area nearby is one of the main producers of Garfagnana IGP spelt wheat, the basis of many local dishes, such as spelt soup.
Don't miss tasting the typical Matuffi, a delicious first course made of layers of polenta that alternate with meat or mushroom sauce.