15 must-visit attractions in Garfagnana: top sights & what to see in this hidden valley!
Garfagnana, located in northern Tuscany, is a suggestive valley. Different from the rest of Tuscany, it is wild and authentic. Lushes greenery surrounds oh-so-pretty little villages where you can indulge in delicious treats, or choose to climb breath-taking paths and relax in lodges on the Alps. The adventures are endless. Don’t worry, we selected 15 must-visit attractions to help you make the best out of this mysterious land!
Visit Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
Castelnuovo di Garfagnana is the main village and a stop we recommend you to make while wandering off the land.
Overlooked by the impressive Rocca Ariostesca, once governed by famous Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto and now a state-of-the-art museum about 1500 Garfagnana. Hit the picturesque town market on Thursday morning or explore the workshops dislocated in the borgo – only after enjoying a big plate of pasta fresca, of course!
What to see near Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
Strategically located in the center of the valley, Castelnuovo is perfect to start your trekking adventures in Garfagnana. That’s why we recommend you start your trip from here.
Check Lago di Pontecosi
Pontecosi Lake is a real gem you cannot miss while visiting Garfagnana. We suggest you follow a romantic path across the lake and cross a small medieval bridge: a real walk through history.
Climb the Fortress of Mont’Alfonso
The Fortezza di Mont’Alfonso (Mont’Alfonso’s Fortress) is one of the most impressive landmark in Garfagnana.
According to the myth, it was once connected to the Rocca Ariostesca via underground tunnels. Now is an art gallery and a concert hall.
Agriturismo near Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
The Serchio Valley is scattered by charming Agriturismos. Villa Raffaelli is a historical residence and an agriturismo with swimming pools. It harmonically blends together the charm of the past with the comforts of modern life.
Visit the historical San Pellegrino in Alpe
Another must-visit attraction is S.Pellegrino in Alpe, the highest village located in the Appennino Mountains.
Explore the Matilde di Canossa Hospital, built for the pilgrims that once walked down the famous Via Francigena. Have a look at the remains of the Saint, son to the King of Scotland, kept inside the Church. According to the myth, he gave up his wealth to live in complete harmony with animals and nature and fought against the Devil itself. Talking about the Devil, the Giro del Diavolo (the Devil path) starts in the town and climbs the 00 Path, allowing you to walk or ride a motorbike and enjoy breath-taking views of the border between Emilia and Tuscany.
How to reach San Pellegrino in Alpe?
To reach S. Pellegrino, you need to cross Castiglione Garfagnana, a picturesque fortified town
home to a medieval festival.
Explore the gorgeous Campocatino
Campocatino is a lush glacial valley surrounded by the Apuan Alps, starting point to several expert-only trekking paths.
Stone cottages scattered the valley, giving you the impression to be inside the Lord of the Ring universe. There is also the opportunity to take an easy path that reaches a hermitage perched on a rock.
How to reach Campocatino?
To reach Campocatino you need to walk across the stunning Vagli Lake. Take a brief look into his
waters – they hide a ghost town – or try the exciting zipline
Relive the Middle Age in the history museum of the Fortezza delle Verrucole
The Fortezza delle Verrucole (the Verrucole Fortress) is one of the most interesting spots of Garfagnana.
With its resemblance of an eagle grasping a stone, it’s definitely worth a visit. Special mention to the highly dedicated guide of the Archeopark, that will help you take a step back in time and relive the Middle Age. Walk between knights and dames, have a look at the costumes, smell the medical herbs and check the weapons. If you want to, you can even try the Trabucco Siege… a bomb!
If you’re wondering what to see in Garfagnana and you are a history lover, you need to visit the Fortress!
Pay a visit to stunning Isola Santa, Marmitte dei Giganti, Fatonero
The Isola Santa (Saint Island) is an enchanting town situated on an artificial lake. Absorb the beauty of its magical colors, that shine together thanks to different minerals dragged by underground water. Within a brief distance, you can also visit the famous White Caves of Michelangelo (yes, that Michelangelo!) and the Marmitte dei Giganti, enormous canyons. You can reach the Marmitte via a spectacular iron path. From this valley, the Fatonero is possible to
arrive at the Monte Sumbra. If you are off exploring the area with your motorbike, then the road to the town of Isola Santa is the perfect itinerary for visiting Garfagnana on a motorbike. Begin your journey in posh Forte Dei Marmi or bike your way through Passo del Vestito, one thing is sure: your eyes will be filled with stunning landscapes!
Climb inside Grotta del Vento in Fornovolasco
The Grotta del Vento (Wind Cave) is another must-visit attraction in Garfagnana. Bikers will love the u-turn road climbing from Trombacco Lake, making this one of the best itineraries for motorbike. Along the road, you will be able to pay a visit to the Calomini’s Hermitage, mount on the rock like a real gem. In wintertime, next to the hermitage, you can enjoy a lovely waterfall make a high jump from the rock above the hermitage. Once you reach your destination, the Grotta del Vento will offer you some routes of different lengths, suitable for everyone.
Visit Castiglione di Garfagnana
Castiglione di Garfagnana is listed in the famous Italian guide “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (Italy’s prettiest towns). It’s a fortified village and a must-see!
Castiglione has walls and towers dating back to 1371; its streets, its historical buildings, and its church are precious documents of the past. Crossing the Medieval Bridge commissioned by Matilde di Canossa, which leads on the Via Matildica del Volto Santo, you arrive at the Via Dei Molini, along the Esarulo river.
Take a stroll along Parco dell’Orecchiella
Parco dell’Orecchiella (Orecchiella Natural Park) is a natural reserve ready to welcome you with its Natural Museum. From here, you can start different trekking paths, according to your own expertise. The Vicaglia Lake is also part of Orecchiella. When you’re down exploring the lush greenery, take a photo of picturesque Casini, thatched-roof farm huts.
Immerse yourself in an Alpine paradise on the Lago di Gramolazzo
The Lago di Gramolazzo (Gramolazzo Lake) surrounded by green pine trees, will allow you to stay in the Alps without leaving Tuscany.
Above the town, immersed in the greenery, the Chiesa Vecchia di Gorfigliano (The Old Church of Gorfigliano), renovated by the citizens themselves, will tell a story of struggle and love for the land. The guide will also tell you the Town’s history and take you to visit the marble caves, the main activity of people around here. Explore the secret crypt and the small museum, to wrap up a perfect day!
Towns to visit in Garfagnana
We would love to describe all the pretty towns of Garfagnana, but it will be an endless list! All of them are worth a visit to try finding out their secrets.
That is why we decided to add a small list of other must-visit towns of Garfagnana.
- Fabbriche di Valico
- Piazza al Serchio
- And many more!
Where is the Valley of Garfagnana?
Here is a small map telling you where is Garfagnana located at. It’s not far from Lucca, Pisa and Firenze! We will be happy to suggest to you what to see in Garfagnana! Contact us or check Garfagnanadream.it, an excellent portal to help you discover what to visit in Garfagnana.
3 additional tours you need to do while in Garfagnana
Cross the Ponte del Diavolo
It’s said that Ponte del Diavolo (The Devil’s Bridge) is the main entrance to Garfagnana. It’s actually named Ponte della Maddalena (Mary Magdalene’s Bridge) after a small chapel, situated on the side, dedicated to her. Her beautiful statue, made by Della Robbia, can still be visited in the church of
Borgo a Mozzano. The bridge, commissioned by Matilde di Canossa, is closely tied with the story of the Devil. A stunning bridge that stands the stands of time.
If you’re coming from Lucca, you will be able to admire the bridge on the main road to Garfagnana.
Barga is another town enlisted in the “Borghi più Belli d’Italia” guide. While not situated in the Garfagnini lands but in the Serchio Valley, it’s still worth a visit while wandering off this country. Barga is an elegant small city 10 minutes away from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Its Duomo overlooks the city center and, on its impressive balcony, it’s possible to see the sunset through the natural arch of Monte Forato, an experience that will leave you in awe. You need to be prepared though, as this happens only twice a year! The Duomo encloses esoteric and templar symbolism and is a shrine of precious monuments. Barga has many small independent shops waiting for you to explore and typical restaurants that will make your tastebuds very happy. In summer, the roads and piazze of its small borgo are full of life and music. Wonderful.
Visit Lucca, Pisa and Florence
Garfagnana is very close to many beautiful and famous cities of Tuscany. If you’re wondering what to see next, maybe Lucca will sound strange however, it’s just 1 hour away! Visit Lucca with its esoteric and medieval charm 40 km from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Only an hour and a half by car you will find Pisa with its famous Piazza Dei Miracoli, while Florence is only two hours away. Not far from Garfagnana you will also find the Versilia and its posh beaches.
What to see in Garfagnana by motorbike
Garfagnana is the promised land for bikers. U-turn breath-taking roads and gorgeous landscapes await you. If you’ve followed our suggestions in this article, you should already know some possible itineraries however, we’re happy to give you more!
- Strada provinciale di Arni
- Passo del Vestito
- Strada per la Grotta del Vento
- Passo dei Carpinelli (Santuario dell’Argegna)
- Passo delle Radici
- Strada per San Pellegrino in Alpe
- Passo di Pradarena
- Sillano-Ospedaletto (via Passo di Pradarena)