Darby day trip: Exploring Garfagnana

By Andrea CullettoJanuary 22, 2024

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Located near Lucca in Northern Tuscany, Garfagnana is a perfect blend of outdoor adventure, historical charm, and breathtaking scenery. This picturesque mountain region is a wonderful place to explore and discover another side of Italy. Here are a few of its many highlights:

1. Parco Alpi Apuane

Garfagnana is blessed with seemingly unending natural beauty that will leave you mesmerized. The region is home to the stunning Parco Alpi Apuane (Apuan Alps Park), which offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. The park is famous for its rugged peaks, beautiful valleys, and crystal-clear lakes. Nearby is Monte Forato, a unique mountain with a natural arch that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

2. Grotta del Vento

Another must-visit natural attraction is the Grotta del Vento (Cave of the Wind). This fascinating cave system stretches for over 4,570 meters and features impressive stalactites, stalagmites, natural sculptures and stone waterfalls. Guided tours are available for visitors to explore this underground wonderland.

3. Lago di Vagli

For those seeking tranquility and relaxation, Lake Vagli is a perfect destination. Surrounded by natural beauty, the lake is an ideal place for swimming, fishing and picnicking. You can also marvel at the 92-meter dam or ponder the lake’s submerged village of Fabbriche di Careggine, which was last seen in 1994 when Vagli’s water was temporarily emptied.

4. Barga

Garfagnana is dotted with charming villages. One of the most picturesque is Barga, known for its panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The historic center of Barga is a maze of narrow streets, ancient churches, and beautiful piazzas, which is an especially fun area to explore. Don't miss the San Cristoforo Cathedral, a stunning Romanesque church that houses precious artworks.

5. Castelnuovo di Garfagnana

Castelnuovo di Garfagnana is another village worth exploring. This fortified town is dominated by its impressive Rocca Ariostesca, a medieval castle with a unique trapezoidal shape. Stroll through the town's narrow streets, visit the local market and indulge in traditional Tuscan cuisine at one of its many charming trattorias.

6. Fortezza della Verrucola

Located in San Romano, this historic fortress was once key to controlling the Garfagnana Valley. It was constructed somewhere between the 10th and the 13th centuries and is split into two buildings, the Rocca Quadra and the Rocca Tonda. Visitors to the fortress are transported back in time thanks to the Fortezza Verrucole Acheopark Project, which recreates fortress life from the past. This living museum showcases how the rooms could have appeared near the end of the 13th century, complete with costumed reenactors and guides.

With so much to see and do, you may want to turn your day trip into a long weekend! For whatever length of time, take a trip up north and discover why the Garfagnana region is one of Tuscany’s most delightful hidden treasures. For more information, visit garfagnanaturismo.it and visittuscany.com.