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Home History and Flavors
History and Flavors

The history of Pontremoli

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The most ancient  history of Pontremoli and  all Lunigiana can be found in the Museum of the Stele Statues, situated  in the Piagnaro Castle, hosting the prehistorical sculptures carved in sandstone, dating back to the Third Millennium B.C. These sculptures had been created by the population who had  lived in the land before the Apuan Ligurian  population.


Il castello del Piagnaro

During the Middle Age, the village of Pontremoli is documented for the first time at the end of the Tenth Century as a stage of the archibishop Sigeric's itinerary, along the French Way.
The village used to be protected by three fortifications:
The Piagnaro Castle, at the top of the old Piagnaro area;
The Cacciaguerra Curtain, a wall used to divide Guelphs from Ghibellines, which main tower is now being used as a Bell Tower (The Campanone/ Big Bell Tower,  the symbol of Pontremoli);
The Castelnuovo Fortress, situated on the left bank of the river Magra, which aim was to defend the ancient door and the ancient wood bridge (perhaps the famous Pons Tremulus* that gave the name to Pontremoli)*Trembling Bridge
In Pontremoli you can find many bridges;  some of them are of  Medieval origins, particularly two above the river Verde (the upriver Cresa bridge, and the downhill Casotto bridge or the Emblem bridge, the symbol of the town), and the bridge above the Magra river, near the ancient hospital.

Il Campanone

Those who visit Pontremoli will be surprised by the richness  of the Baroque palaces and the art works inside its churches.
Thanks to its strategic importance along the French Way, Pontremoli becomes a trading village and is called the Door of the Appennine.
Since the second half of the seventeenth century, Pontremoli is enriched of beautiful palaces, residences of the new local nobility, and  the existing churches are being  embellished, while the new ones are being built.
Since 1787, Pontremoli is declared "Noble Town" and has been a diocese for two centuries.
Here are the most beautiful churches:
Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral (Our Lady of the Assumption), of the Eighteenth Century.
The church has a big white marble façade and the dome covered with copper. Inside, you can find an ancient wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, Madonna del Popolo (The People Virgin Mary, dating back to the Thirteenth Century)
San Francesco Church,(st Francis) of the Thirtheenth Century. The church represents the symbol of the devotion to the Poor of Assisi. Inside this church you can find valuable works like the bas-relief of the Virgin Mary with the Child, by Agostino di Duccio, of the Fifteenth Century, and the Crucifixion, probably made by Guido Reni.
SS. Annunziata Church, of the Fifteenth Century, in the south of the centre, keeps a polyptych of the Fifteenth Century, works by Luca Cambiaso of the Sixteenth Century, a  small marble  temple of the Sixteenth Century and a sacristy with furnitures carved in wood (Seventeenth Century).
Here are other interesting churches, such as:
San Giorgio Middle-Age Church, San Nicolò Church, San Geminiano Church,  Nostra Donna Church ( Eighteenth Century Our Lady Church), San Pietro Church, which was rebuilt in the second postwar period.
The municipal territory of Pontremoli offers to the visitor many great interest and rare suggestion treasures, starting from the water courses, all of them very inviting, fresh and full of fishes.
Along the river Gordana, you find the Stretti di Giaredo, a profound gorge that you can reach by a short tour from the village of Cavezzana.
From the  northern part of the village of Pracchiola, a shadowy path leads you to the waterfall of the Piscio in few minutes. This waterfall is the nice “jump” of a water stream that flows a little more downhill in the river Magra.

Above the village of Gravagna, there is Groppo del Vescovo, which is a rocky formation emerging among the enchanting green of the surrounding grass, just at the border between Tuscany and the Emilia Romagna region.
The Lago Verde (the Green Lake) is situated  near the village of Cervara, in the high valley of the homonymous river, and is a sheet of water opening among grass surrounded by beeches.

The trips along the paths indicated by the CAI (an Italian Alpine Club) are numerous:
The GEA, running through the top of the Appennine at more than 1,800 above sea level;
The French Way from the Cisa Pass to Pontremoli;
The paths leading to Prati di Logarghena (the Logarghena Meadows) and the Appennine chain of the Orsaro.
The environment shaped by the mankind  can also give you many unexpected corners, like the majestic arch of the Groppodalosio  Bridge, built in the Sixteenth Century, standing out at sixteen metres above the riverbed of the Magra.
Thanks to its peculiarities as a town created along very important communication roads, the town of Pontremoli has made the hospitality one of its main features.
Its gastronomy is really appreciated, and comes from the wise mixture of genuine ingredients of the Ligurian and the Emilian culture, with a hint of Tuscany: the famous Testaroli (  rhombs of pastry cooked in testi* and seasoned with pesto, oil and parmesan), the remarkable salted cakes (vegetables, potatoes, leeks, rice cakes), the very savoury game (the wild pig lives and is  hunted in abundance), the typical Lamb of Zeri or the fist courses based on chestnut flour. The unique sweets like the Amors (made with  a very secret cream), or the spongata of Pontremoli (a Christmas cake made of puff pastry, marmalade, honey, raisins and nuts).
*The Testi are containers made of cast iron. Today, they are still used to cook food
The hospitality is guaranteed in very peaceful surroundings by hotels, farmhouses and B&B in the nature. There are many culture and  amusement occasions, with so many celebrations, starting from the premio Bancarella (the Bancarella Award) and other appointments related to tradition of books and the walking  booksellers.
The placard of the seventeenth century Teatro della Rosa (the Rose Teather)  gives an interesting list of appointments with the best of the Italian prose and concerts attracting a wide audience.

Il Premio Bancarella

Situated among the river Magra and the river Verde, and protected by the castle on  the hill of the Piagnaro, the village of Pontremoli was very important thanks to its strategic position at the foot of the Appennine, in a strip of Tuscany  among the Liguria and the Emilia region, along the French Way. It was called the “Key and door” of those passages which, during the Middle Age assured the shortest and easiest link among the Western and the Mediterranean Europe.

Named by the archbishop Sigeric as a stage of his  pilgrimage itinerary at the end of the Tenth century (he was coming back from Rome), Pontremoli was a free commune until the beginning of the Fourteenth century, when it went under various dominations which were interested to the control of the important way of communication.
It’s in 1650 when Pontremoli, enriched by the trades and taxes, gets to know an extraordinary social and economic development, related to the acquisition of the Grand duchy of Tuscany.
The trades with the port of Livorno, the goods processing, the gain of the northern markets enrich numerous families who will  build palaces and villas   and  improve ancient and austere churches, according to the Baroque taste.
The village of Pontremoli has been a  bishops’ seat from 1787 to 1987. 
Napoleon Bonaparte made the village a prominent administrative centre, while, during the Restauration period, it went under Tuscany and then to Mary Louisa’s Duchy of Parma, together with the Parmesan Lunigiana.
During the period of the Union of Italy, the village of Pontremoli became part of the province of Massa Carrara, and had a prominent role in the War of Liberation, among the last lands forsaken by the German troops on 27th April 1945.


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