Benvenuti…

Il Poggiolo Guest Guide… is a service to Our Guests staying at il Poggiolo… La Casetta, La Casa Grande and the Appartmento Azzurro. It offers suggestions for everything from local restaurants, shopping, to day excursions and, if need be, information for emergencies in Codiponte and in the Aulella River valley of the Lunigiana. Scroll-up to read specific blogs on, for instance, Local Services & Conveniences… Emergencies included… and Restaurants. Other blog postings will follow for Excursions, History & Culture, etc.
Now, a bit about the Lunigiana, Codiponte & il Poggiolo…
The Lunigiana… the name comes from the Roman city of Luni, one of the five principal Roman cities on the Italian peninsula. The city was a port situated at the cross-roads of the via Aurelia connecting Rome with Spain and the routes over the Cisa & Cerreto Passes to the Po River Valley and the Roman Empire of Northern Europe. The few visible remnants of Luni, such as the Roman amphitheater, can be seen in the lowlands between Sarzana & Massa-Carrara. A story goes that it took the Romans 250 years to finally conquer the Lunigiana. The decisive Roman victory was in an open field near the town of Pontremoli. The conquered peoples of the Lunigiana were given gold to relocate elsewhere in the empire, never to be a threat again to Rome, while peoples from other regions were encourage with a similar offer to relocate in the Romanized Lunigiana.
The region is geographically defined by the Apennines and the Apuane Mountains in the northwest corner of Tuscany. The later group consists of three peaks perpendicular to the north-south march of the Apennines and much revered by the Romans for their stunning singularity. These two ranges, both being so near to the Mediterranean Sea, protect the Lunigiana from the extreme cold & snow. The region’s mild climate is ideal for growing olives, The Gold of the Middle Ages up to the Italian Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s. To protect & regulate the tax income from olive oil and the commercial & religious traffic along the major routes of communication passing through the Lunigiana during the 1200 to 1400s, over 120 castles were constructed. One of the more impressive & scenic castles to visit is the Verrucola dei Bosi’ Castle… shown in the photo below… above Fivizzano on the way to the Cerretto Pass.
The beauty of the Lunigiana of the Aulella River valley is the area is still one of stone borghi… or, villages perched on the hills cascading down from the Apuane & Apennine peaks. One is Castiglioncello, seen in the photo below, along the road to the Carpenelli Pass for the Garfagnana & Lucca. It is only a ten minute drive from Codiponte.
Another is Luscignano, directly above Codiponte.
Codiponte… is situated in a picturesque valley of olive groves & chestnut forests along the Aulella River. A spine of low mountains a short distance to the west separates this area of the Lunigiana from the Mediterranean coast of the Versilia.
The town’s name is dialect for capo del ponte... or, the head of the bridge. And, in fact, Codiponte was the only convenient place to ford the Aulella River for miles in either direction and, especially, on the principal travel route from the Mediterranean coast. The town was an administrative, commercial & religious center for hundreds of years. A branch of the famous pilgrimage route to Rome… the Via Francigena… passed through Codiponte. The Pieve di Codiponte… or, parish church, was a key way-station… church, clinic, hotel, market, meeting point… along this route to Lucca and, eventually, to Rome. Today, Codiponte is an active village of about 350 year-round inhabitants.
Il Poggiolo… means balcony in Italian. It is the name given by the locals to the house and surrounding garden. The property does appear to stick-out like a balcony out over the rest of the borgo… or, stone village. The house has two distinct sections… the old farm house… now called La Casa Grande… built with a series of angled roofs. The highest part was the long-standing living quarters of three rooms… now referred to as l’Appartamento Azzurro. The large expanse of roof below it were the hay barns, while in the cantina… or, basement were the stalls for the animals and rooms for making & storing olive oil, wine & other products of the farm surrounding the house complex. The other… La Casetta… is a residence constructed in the early 1700s in the Medici style to be La Casa Padronale… or, Master’s House, but was never completely finished. La Casetta is the part of il Poggiolo with the tall archway in the photo below.
Thank you.
Links…
If you have happened upon this blog first and would like to know about the vacation rentals available at il Poggiolo, please go to…
Insider Guide…
General…
Castles…

Bars, Convenience Stores, Local Services…

Bars…
Bar Lorianna… or, at least, that’s what we call it. It’s the only bar/tabaccaio in Codiponte. It is on the main road heading towards Casola in a bank of houses. Cigarettes to beer, ice-cream to playing video porker… Oh! Boy… to watching a soccer game on Sky-TV while sipping una birra dalla spina… or, a beer on tap. The bar is the Commercial & Cultural Center for the village and is open from 5:30AM until 2AM every day. And yes, 24/7.
Bar della Torre is in Casola in Lunigiana… the next town above Codiponte. It is open from early morning to late at night. There is a small alimentari… or, convenience store next it and catty-corner to both is a green grocer & magazine stand. What a combo!
Convenience Stores… in Codiponte
Alimentari Anna… right off the Piazza Civico in Codiponte. The shop is well stocked with the essentials from ricotta, milk to cleaning products, etc.. Take a left at the bottom of the ramps leading down from il Poggiolo and the shop is on the right in a terra-cotta stucco-ed house. Closed Wednesday afternoons and on Sundays. The owner is a very nice lady!
Alimentari Lorianna again, next door to the ONLY bar of Codiponte. Not nearly as well stocked as Alimentari Anna but, it does have good bread and an inordinate array of pasta.
Ortafrutta e Fiori… on the right coming across the Medieval Bridge. Closed Wednesday & Saturday afternoons and on Sunday.
Macelleria/Salumeria da Massimo on the corner of the main road, SS445, and the  street leading to/from the Medieval bridge. Massimo is of the best butchers in the Lunigiana, the beef eating-est country ever. People come from miles around to load up on his various cuts of beef, pork, veal &  chicken. He also has cheeses & eggs, cookies, pasta & wine.
Grocery Stores… in the vicinity
Carrefour Express… is in Gragnola, the next town below Codiponte. It is a small store with all the grocery-store basics… a butcher, cheeses & salamis, frozen foods to fresh fruits & vegetables, beer & wine, cleaning products, etc. Take the SS 445 towards Aulla. After the little village of Casette, there will be a street on the left between two houses with indications for Equi Terme. Make the left, cross the railroad tracks and the store is on the right, once the street has widen after entering the village. There is parking in front.
Conad… at Terrarossa is outside & north of Aulla on the SS62 for Villa Franca-in-Lunigiana & Pontremoli. The store is on the right & below the road and is situated in a complex of other shops & stores. Off & behind is a large building with a Brico Center, a self-service hardware store. The Conad is the most well furnished & price conscious of the grocery stores in the area.
D’Oro… is in Pallerone, a small village with an adjacent commercial district on a short-cut heading north out of Aulla on the SS63 to Fivizzano & Codiponte. It is a well furnished grocery store, a bit expensive but with an excellent butcher.
La Vecchia… is in Fivizzano. With Aulla behind you, make a left at the light on the SS63 as you enter the town. The entrance is on the left in between some 2-story buildings along a tree lined allee. Again, a well stocked grocery store in an historic town of the Lunigiana.
Post Offices…
The Codiponte Post Office… is open on Wednesday & Fridays from 8:30 to 1:30.
The Casola Post Office the next town above Codiponte… is open Mondays to Saturdays from 8:30 to 1:30. We go to this one right after a cappuccino at the Bar della Torre.
Pharmacies…
There are pharmacies in Casola, Gragnola, Monzone… after Gragnola heading to Equi… & Fivizzano. Among these towns, there is at least one open on Sundays & Holidays. Also, there are pharmacies in Pallerone & Aulla.  The pharmacy in Gragnola is the most convenient, well-stocked and we know the owner quite well.
Auto Repair…
Autoufficina da Sauro… is on a little lane after the Pieve di Codiponte… or, church. Sauro is the first stop for any car repair in the area.

Restaurants…

Spino Fiorito... via per Vedriano, 7 Casola in Lunigiana – Telephone: 0585-949167 – Website: www.spinofiorito.it…
is on the SS445 heading up to the Carpenelli Passo, after Casola. Make a left for Reusa after the village of Vigneta. Very popular with the English. What brings them in is the pranzo price of Euro 10 for wine, primo, secondo, dessert, caffe’ & grappa, etc. There is a swimming pool, free with lunch. Also open for dinner.

Albergo Ristorante Sicomoro… Strada Statale 63 at Cormezzano – Telephone: 0585-99442 – Website: www.ilsicomoro.it… 
on the SS63 practically at the intersection with the short-cut for Codiponte through Gassano. Great for pranzo… Euro 15 gives you wine, primo, secondo & caffe’. The menu has many choices & variety. Lots of locals come to the restaurant, from construction workers to business men. Different clientele for dinner. Noted for an antipasto of various salami & savory pies. There is also a small hotel in the complex too.
Agriturismo La Pretola Santa Chiara Gragnola – Telephone: 333-5461443 or 346-4150548… is an agriturismo, a country-style hotel… with a wonderful restaurant outside Gragnola. It is the most sophisticated restaurant in the area. Excellent locally made wines are served. Open for dinner, Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations are helpful.
Albergo Ristorante da Remo… via Cesare Battisti, 57 – Monzone – Telephone: 0585-97933 – Website: www.hotelristdaremo.it…
there is a white stucco building with a porch on the right after an IP gas station. The food is quite good. Dreadful pink ambiance. And, too many lights on at dinner. My favourite dish is gnocchi di formaggio… or, cheese gnocchi… made like mini soufflés. Scrumptious. The restaurant is also known for its antipasto. Open for both lunch & dinner.
Albergo Ristorante della Posta… via Provinciale, 15 Equi Terme – Telephone: 0585-97937…
good Lunigiana food… il tagliata di manzo & rucola… or, sliced steak with arugula… tops on the list. A lovely woman runs the restaurant by the name of Carmen. Use my name!
Al Vecchio Tino… via Piave, 1 Monti dei Bianchi – Telephone: 0585-97733 – Website: www.alvacchiotino.com…
some people swear by this restaurant and others not. It is an agriturismo with a restaurant. Panoramic views of the Apuane Mountains and the Lunigiana.  Open for lunch & dinner.
Albergo Ristorante Pasquino… Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, 22 Aulla – Telephone: 0187-420509…
an excellent restaurant with a simple yet stylishly modern ambiance. Noted for their panagacci… or, a flat bread cooked in terra-cotta dishes heated on an open fire. The bread is served with a creamy white cheese & various salamis. Yum-yum. The rest of the menu is top flight too.

Excursions…

Exploring in & around the neighborhood… 

Make a tour of the local pievi… or, parish churches. The pievi of Codiponte, San Lorenzo, Offiano & others were built along what was known as la via del Volto del Santo… http://www.viadelvoltosanto.it/… an off-shoot of the famous pilgrimage route from France to Rome, la via Francigena… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Via_Francigena. Many pilgrims chose to pass through the Lunigiana to Lucca, Tuscany and eventually to Rome to avoid the risk of malaria & pirate attacks in the swampy coastal area of the Mediterranean Sea below La Spezia, the heavier taxes of passage in Pisa and to participate in the important religious procession of il Volto del Santo in Lucca. A reliquary rivaling the importance of the Shroud of Turin, il Volto del Santo is a wooden cross marked with an image of Jesus Christ. The pievi of the valley of the Aullela River up to the Carpanelli Pass were more than sanctuaries for penitence & meditation, but were also way-stations providing food & board, medical aid and even markets.
The Pieve di Codiponte… http://www.terredilunigiana.com/chiese/pievecodi.phpThe church was reconstructed in the 12th Century from the remnants of one built in the 8th Century. Of note is the beautifully decorated wood-painted ceiling and a recently restored 14th Century triptych depicting the village of Codiponte & local dignitaries of the times.
In the small village of San Lorenzo… take the SS445 to Casola in Lunigiana & follow signs to Minucciano. San Lorenzo is along the way… is the Pieve di San Lorenzo. This parish church is quaintly situated in its Medieval garden of hydrangeas & yew trees and its interior is typical of early Romanesque churches. Continuing past Minuccciano is the village of Ugliancaldo http://www.terredilunigiana.com/eng/villages/borgougliancaldo.php… built in the saddle of the Apuane mountains. Situated at one end of the borgo… or, village is the Pieve of  Sant’Andrea.  There are panoramic views  from its flower strewn lawn down to Equi Terme… more on that later… on one side and the valley of the Aullela River on the other.  The town is also something to explore. There is a lovely oratory built in the 15th Century dedicated to San Rocco in the heart of the borgo. Sadly, it is in poor repair.
Returning to the SS445 at Casola in Lunigiana, follow signs for Lucca. After the town of Vigneta, follow road signs for the borgo of Castiglioncello. You will see the Medieval village perched on a promitory dominating the valley down to Casola. At the entrance to the borgo is Pieve di Offiano… http://www.terredilunigiana.com/borghi/borgooffiano.php. Again, it’s worth the time to wander around the borgo.
Make a tour of the castles of the Lunigiana… there are over 120 castles in various states of repair or use scattered throughout the Lunigiana region. Being at an important crossroads, many were constructed to insure order and the collection of taxes of passages & excise duties… http://www.terredilunigiana.com/eng/castles/castelli.php. A few are still used as residences, such as the Castello dell’Aquila… http://www.castellodellaquila.it/castelloaquila/… perched on a hill above the town of Gragnola just before you arrive in Codiponte. Others are not. The Castello di Codiponte has been shut to visitors as a precaution due to its dangerous state. And still others are open to visitors. The Castello della Verrucola… http://www.terredilunigiana.com/castelli/casteverrucola.php… above the town of Fivizzano is one example. One fascinating relic is the Castello di Groppoli-Mulazzo… http://www.carraraonline.com/groppoli_il_castello.php. What can be seen of the castle from the road will be on the left, the part of the complex which collapsed years ago. A fantastical scene is a mantel piece hanging three floors above ground level!!! Leave the car and take the leaf-strewn path which weaves around the buried borgo until you arrive up on a grassy piazza. There is the part of the castle saved with a new roof. Great spot for a picnic. The owners of this castle live in a rebuilt castle in a borgo called Castiglione del Terziere… http://www.castellitoscani.com/italian/terziere.htm above the town of Villa Franca in Lunigiana. It was once the capital of the Lunigiana when the Medici won a battle to control the region, mostly for its tax income. The village is a pleasant place to walk around & admire the views above the Magra River valley. Other castles of note are the ones at Bagnone & Licciana Nardi.

Make a tour of the Medieval towns of the Lunigiana… the beauty of the Lunigiana is, in many spots, the region is still as it was hundreds of years ago… stone villages scattered across the landscape of olive & chestnut groves. Many of the more stunning of these borghi have been mentioned earlier… Bagnone, Licciana Nardi… but, Filattiera, Pontremoli, Comano & Fivizzano can be added to the list. Fivizzano is the “Big Town” nearest to Codiponte… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fivizzano… or, this video link: http://youtu.be/fep8BjehRDo. Sitting outside the pasticceria… or, pastry shop on the main piazza is enough, however, walking through the stones streets to the embattlements affords great views of the valley leading down to Aulla, the other Big City of the Lunigiana.
The website of Terre in Lunigiana… http://www.terredilunigiana.com/… has a list of principal towns & villages of the Lunigiana with suggestiong
Where to go & see farther away…
Sarzana… exit at Sarzana off the A-12 autostrada & follow signs to Centro. Trip takes about 45 minutes from Codiponte… is a lovely little city between La Spezia to its north and the Versilia coast of Tuscany & Pisa to the south. The city of 21,000 is dominated by the 1,000 year old fortress of Sarzanello. The streets of the centro storico are pedestrian but, watch out for the occasional bike-rider. The principal street… running East-West… is via Giuseppe Mazzini which passes the main square, Piazza Matteotti. A short distance away from the piazza in the direction of the town’s cathedral is the famous Gemmi Caffe’ & Pasticceria… http://laspezia.mentelocale.it/19873-pasticceria-caffe-storico-gemmi/. Nifty place for a cappuccino and something sweat to eat. The grid of streets are filled with enticing antique shops, interesting boutique clothing & shoe stores, restaurants & bars. One of our favorite eatery is Osteria Panzallegra… http://www.osteriapanzallegra.it/. And one time to go is during the week-long antiques market in August. It’s especially fun to go to it in the late afternoon… after 5… browse the innumerable stands set up on the grid os streets and then, stay for dinner.
Pietrasanta… south of Sarzana, exit at Pietrasanta off the A-12 autostrada & follow signs to Centro. Trip is about an hour from Codiponte… is THE CITY for artists & marble. Henry Moore, Noguchi and many others have all come to Pietrasanta to work with the nearby marble quarries & technicians. Similar to Sarzana, the centro storico is grid of streets… though much smaller than Sarzana… with an eclectic array of galleries, shops & restaurants. And, it is the restaurants which are the main draw of the town, being so close the the summer resorts of the Versilia coast, such as Forte dei Marmi. In the evenings, tables & chairs are put out on the pedestrian street illuminated by candlelight. One place we go to is the Trattoria il Marzocco… http://www.trattoriailmarzocco.it/index.htmAs for shopping, there is wonderful shop for home furnishings called Memorie… on via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 5. Many of items in il Poggiolo come from this shop. What we do all lot is have drinks in one of the bars on the Piazza del Duomo. Great people watching while sipping a nice chilly glass of white wine.
Forte dei Marmi… same exit as Pietrasanta off the A-12 autostrada & follow signs for Forte dei Marmi and is about one hour away from Codiponte… is one of chicest places in Italy. Portofino, the other contender, was a fisherman’s cove before WWII. Forte dei Marmi has always been a summer playground for rich Fiorentini escaping the muggy heat of Florence. The city is a beach resort with beach clubs lining the viale Italico… it changes name to via della Repubblica later on… from one end to the other. The rest is the usual grid of streets with most expensive shops… GUCCI, Dolce & Gabbana et all… boutiques, restaurants & bars. Very upscale. It’s one of those places you have to dress up. One of the big draws and a delightful alternative from teh fashion labels is the street market held every Wednesday. Old furs to jewelry to terra-cotta tiles are on sale. Part of the market is held in a park under umbrella pines. The shade is nice to have in July.

Emergencies…

Emergency Telephone Numbers…
115                  Fire… or, i Vigili del Fuoco              
113                  Police… or, la Polizia                         
112                  Carabinieri… or, i Carabinieri    
118                  Ambulance… Ambulanza         

0585-9401       Hospital (Fivizzano)… or, l’Ospedale 
0585-885458   Guardia Medica…                    
0585-90013     Municipal Police… or, la Polizia Municipale                   

800327327      Gas…                                       
803500            Electricity… Elettricita’           
800234537      Water… Acqua
                         
Local Hospitals & Emergency Medical Services…
La Croce Bianche… in Codiponte… in the pink house next to the drive to the newer Medieval bridge offers ambulance services to area hospitals for seriously injured or sick persons. Telephone: 0585-949119.
The Fivizzano Hospital… is located on the SS63 on the left as you head out of town to the north and after the traffic light. There is a Pronto Soccorso… or, Emergency… for medical emergencies. The general telephone: 0585-9401