Filecchio is a small hamlet in northern Tuscany set between the Apenine and Apuane mountain ranges. The nearest town is Fornaci di Barga and the historic medieval settlement of Barga is only 7km away. There is excellent walking and cycling all around the area. The walled city of Lucca is only 40 minutes by car or train. Both Pisa and Florence can also be accessed by train or car in 90 minutes.
The Garfagnana is one of the most famous ‘undiscovered’ parts of Italy. From the northern end of the Garfagnana, the river Serchio winds roughly parallel with the coast for 50km down to Lucca. There is some industry on the flatter valley bottom but the sides rise quite swiftly into a patchwork of woods and farms with their own network of tributary streams.
On the east side these mountains form sweeping ridges typically 4-5,000 feet (around 1,400m) above sea level. On the western side – between the river and the coast – they are more aggressively shaped, attain well over 5,000 feet (1,500m) and have taken the title “Apuan Alps”. Their upper reaches are green pasture and white limestone: they have been quarried for the marble prized by Renaissance architects.
The largest towns in the region are Barga and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, but settlement is mostly a matter of small and scattered communities, whose orchards, vineyards and grazing lands are separated by oak and chestnut forest. Its attractions for the tourist – landscapes, picturesque villages, churches and castles – are many but widely dispersed. Garfagnese winters are cold. Unless you go there for the skiing facilities of the Apuan Alps, the best time to visit the Garfagnana is either the spring, when the trees are in young leaf and the mountaintops still streaked with snow, or autumn, when all colours converge to bronze and gold. Summertime is also good, as travellers may find respite from the boiling cities.