Pontremoli, the village the Romans called "Apua", was settled about 1000 BC. It became an independent municipality in 1226. It is the northern gateway to the Lunigiana.
Pontremoli's Castello del Piagnaro is one of the Lunigiana's largest castles, and houses the "Museo delle Statue Stele", unique sculptures representing human figures found in the Lunigiana. There are great views from the top of the castle, as in the picture of Pontremoli above, taken from the ramparts.
Wandering booksellers from the nineteenth century made the Lunigiana quite a literary destination:
By the end of the nineteenth century, many of the itinerant booksellers had became quite prosperous. They decided to swap the hardships of life on the move with its unpredictable weather and need to transport their children in the same baskets as the books, for life in the city. Here they could educate their children and open up permanent bookshops. Some returned to Pontremoli, others settled in northern and central Italy. Today, many bookshops and publishing houses throughout Italy, and even as far afield as Spain, Argentina and Mexico, are still owned by the descendants of the original booksellers from Pontremoli. The itinerant bookseller eventually disappeared. Those who could not afford their own bookshop opened up stalls, bancarelle, under the porticos in the big cities.
Yes, you can still attend the Premio Bancarella in Pontremoli in July.
Pontremoli is a town with many fine restaurants and markets. Don't miss a trek up to the castle to visit the Museum.
My Lunigiana neighbor found this stele statue in Bigliolo, a town noted for its beans. It dates from the late iron age, and is now found in the Museo delle Statue Stele.
The museum is an evocative, uphill walk through the medieval center of Pontremoli.
For more pictures of the Lunigiana, see our Flickr Lunigiana Album.