Ancient villages scattered over the mountains
An ancient area of Versilia, this municipality is extensive with villages scattered on the mountain slopes and spectacular views. The history of these villages takes us back in time, since this Apuan area, these impressive mountains, were already inhabited in ancient times, as evidenced by the discovery of Apuan-Ligurian graves.
In ancient times this territory was known for its rich silver mines around which arose an organised defensive system made up of towers, fortresses and castles. The undisputed protagonists of these areas, however, are always them, the mountains. The highest point is the Monte Pania della Croce (1858 metres above sea level) and other unique viewpoints such as Monte Forato and Monte Corchia.
This area is much loved by climbers and hikers, who remain enchanted by the unique and unforgettable views. A network of trails start from Stazzema that allow you to reach other villages and the peaks of the Apuan mountains.
A tour through history and villages
For those who want to visit these places more “slowly” there is no lack of opportunities. A tour of Stazzema takes you to the clock tower, which dates back to 1739 and still works, the 16th-century Carraia fountain and the beautiful church dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta located just outside the town on the site of a Roman temple. The church has a white marble façade, a beautiful rose window and contains three ancient bells cast in 1500 that produce the oldest concert in all of Versilia. Not far away, hidden in the woods and accessible only by foot via a steep path, is the Sanctuary of Madonna del Piastraio built in the 17th century.
Among the other villages that are part of the municipality of Stazzema there are Retignano, Terrinca and Levigliani, where there is a pre-Roman necropolis, Ruosina, Pomezzana, the church of San Rocco, Volegno, Pruno, famous for the summer solstice celebrations and for the Living Nativity held on 24 December that was first organised a few years ago by the villagers. We should also mention Sumbra, famous for the Giant’s Kettles, potholes in the rock eroded by water over thousands of years. Interesting excursions lead to Alpe della Grotta, Monte Procinto, Foce delle Porchette, Monte Forato and Pania della Croce.
In Levigliani there is the Antro del Corchia, the largest cave system in Italy consisting of 70 kilometres of tunnels and holes that can be visited along guided paths and walkways. During these visits you find yourself in a labyrinth of stalactites and stalagmites shaped by water with tunnels that penetrate up to 1200 metres deep. Another thing to experience in this area in the spring is the flowering of the jonquils on Monte Croce, from which we can also see the majestic Pania della Croce.
Lest we forget
You cannot mention Stazzema without remembering the massacre of Sant’Anna, one of the most heinous Nazi massacres in Italy during World War II and a warning to all mankind. Stazzema, decorated with the Gold Medal of Military Valour in 1970, today remembers the tragic events of 1944 with the Resistance Museum and the church square which has remained unchanged since that terrible day when all the inhabitants of the village were killed. Do not forget to walk along the Sant’Anna Via Crucis, a path through the woods that leads to the Ossuary in the National Peace Park.
More recently, in 1996, another terrible event shook these otherwise peaceful and quiet lands: a disastrous flood affected the entire Upper Versilia and totally devastated the town of Cardoso.