THE GARFAGNANA AND THE CAVE OF THE WIND

A walk in Garfagnana among natural oases, ancient villages and the Grotta del Vento. A short distance from the Villa Tower Inn hotel we find the wonderful Garfagnana area. Here the scenery changes and becomes pristine vegetation, the air is crisp and intoxicates the spirit while the traffic is just a distant memory already removed. Garfagnana is a leap into the serene and introspective peace of its woods, barely distracted by the noises of the Serchio river, which it crosses. There are many nearby villages to visit such as Borgo Mozzano, with its fortifications from the Second World War, and it will certainly be fun to take part in the original and strange festival of cheese throwing, an ancient sport that has been repeated in this area since the 1400s. and where there is a challenge to whoever throws cheeses of about 30 kg farthest, rolling them on special tracks. Just in October it can happen to come across this game, but it will certainly be there in the morning of the Castiglione di Garfagnana spring festival. To visit the Campocatino natural oasis, a boundless prairie inhabited by many species of birds, from where you can then proceed for a suggestive hike through the woods.

Less than an hour from the Villa TowerInn hotel in Pisa, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana awaits us, with its high altitude air, where on Thursday mornings there is the largest market in the Garfagnana, ancient since 1430. The Cathedral is worth seeing. always open and within the intact walls there is the panoramic fortress of Monte Alfonso, inside which there are green meadows, shops, hostels, bars, event rooms, a museum and botanical garden. In short, a wonderful place from which to enjoy unforgettable sunsets.

Inside the Parco delle Alpi Apuane , a handful of km from Barga very close to us, there is a large limestone world with surprising colors, overhangs, tunnels, winding tunnels, ponds and underground rivers which is called the 'wind cave' due to the current of air that forms between the entrances. There are itineraries of various times, and, in this vertical labyrinth there are also two adventure trails whose titles are very suggestive: the 'abyss of light' and the 'runners of darkness'. Both involve the overcoming of bridges and descents on ropes with the technical equipment included in the excursion. We certainly will not leave without taking a peek at Castiglione di Garfagnana, which is a village entirely surrounded by walls with a beautiful Romanesque cathedral and an unforgettable view of the valley. Here too the fortress stands on the highest part of the town; the inhabited center developed around the fortress which was then protected by 750 m long walls. Also worth seeing is the 13th century church of San Pietro in red marble and gray stone.

The next stops will be in the surroundings: the Orecchielle natural park, the Pietro Pellegrini botanical garden and Barga.

Other excursions you can do in the Lucca mountains and do not miss the opportunity to visit the famous Devil's Bridge, particular for its shape and its legend, and the suspension bridge at Lake Vagli.

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