Borgo a Buggiano-Svizzera Pesciatina (Pietrabuona 15 min by car, about 9 km)
To the north of Pescia, close to the ridges of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, immersed in a green and uncontaminated valley, lies the Svizzera Pesciatina (or Valleriana).
The name Svizzera Pesciatina was attributed by the Swiss economist J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi in his work “Tableau de l’agriculture toscane” (1801). Who fell in love with these places that reminded him of his homeland.
Those who have turned their attention to Pesciatina Switzerland have always witnessed the peculiarity of this territory, its being intact, its unique environment, its peculiar and authentic landscapes.
Here, with great harmony, between hills, prairies and ancient chestnut woods, the mastery of man has carved over the centuries ten small villages, called “le castella”: Pietrabuona, Fibbialla, Medicina, Aramo, Sorana, San Quirico, Vellano, Castelvecchio, Stiappa and Pontito.
Following the course of the Pescia river it is possible to visit them all. The first town they meet along the road is Pietrabuona, defined as the natural gateway to the Svizzera Pesciatina, perched on a wooded hill. It is thought that the name of the village derives from the quarries of pietra serena that are present in the surroundings. The town is now home to the Paper Museum, an important institution that aims to pass on and testify to a centuries-old and prestigious activity, that of paper processing, which in the past made this production district great in the world.
Continuing along the itinerary, you arrive at the village of Medicina, known for its ancient church of SS. Sixtus and Martin of the 10th century.
Going back on the road you reach Fibbialla, surrounded by vineyards and chestnut groves, it is typical for its panoramic balconies. The 15th-century Church of San Michele Arcangelo marks the entrance to the village.
Immediately after Fibbialla, we find the castle of Aramo, in which it is still possible to see some traces of the ancient walls and some underground tunnels, used in the past by the inhabitants in case of siege to get out of the village.
Following, we meet San Quirico, a place chosen by many for their summer stays. Characterized by stone constructions and the remains of the walls and the hexagonal tower, dating back to the thirteenth century.
Coming down from San Quirico, we meet Castelvecchio with its ancient parish church of SS. Tommaso e Ansano, dating back to the 9th century. In the center of the village, under the church of San Giovanni Battista, we find the Oratory of SS. Rosary decorated entirely with episodes from the life of Christ and the Virgin.
Returning to the main road, shortly after you reach the town of Stiappa, on the slopes of Mount Battifolle and formerly a border town between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Lucca. The Via dei Mulini also starts from here, and can be crossed by walking.
Continue to Pontito, the highest castle in Valleriana with its 750 m. It is characterized by its inverted fan shape with streets and houses forming various concentric arches; at the top we find the Romanesque church dedicated to Saints Andrea and Lucia. It is the only castle that has kept all the original medieval structures intact, including the four entry gates into the town called “di Sopra”, “di Sotto”, “Michelina” and “Lucca”.
Coming down from Pontito you can reach the town of Sorana, once called “sovereign” due to its dominant position over the valley. This castella is famous all over the world for the production of the Sorana IGP bean, with a delicate taste, with an almost imperceptible fine skin and great nutritional benefits.
Every year with the collection of the product, the “Bean Festival”is organized in the town square with tasting of the precious legume.
Taking the road back to Pescia, it is possible to see some of the factories that were used for paper processing; the most important artery was that of the Magnani family who also produced paper money for the Italian Mint.
Continuing the itinerary we find ourselves in Vellano, the capital of Valleriana, from which it is possible to admire a beautiful view of the Pescia river valley. Qui, a Vellano, si trova l’ultima cava di pietra serena ancora operativa: la Cava Nardini.Here, in Vellano, there is the last quarry of pietra serena still operational: the Nardini quarry. Furthermore, it is possible to visit the Ethnographic Historical Museum of the Miner and the Quarryman.