Mysterious Montereggio, Village of Books: In Pictures, The North West Tuscany Way, Tour 18

Curvilinear Marble Sculpture

p r e s e n t s

Montereggio Map 1 Google Earth

Montereggio Map 2 Google Earth

Montereggio Map 3 Google Earth

North West Tuscany for the Independent Tourist

IN PICTURES

Panoramic view of Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

Tour 18: Montereggio, Remote and Mysterious Village of Books

Lunigiana’s long wide, pastoral valley runs through the region like a tricolor ribbon.  Roadside Attractions, Lunigiana, Tuscany, ItalyTo the west tall mountains, often snow-capped, stab at the sky.   Through the center, along either riverbank stretches a solid quilt of rich farmland.     And to the east lies one huge, great (and I mean great), woodland, and it is deep into this lovely, dense dark woods we delve today as we attempt to track down and discover the illusive,  almost fabled,  ‘Lunigianan Village of Books’.   Pontremoli, Heart and Soul of Lunigiana along the North West Tuscan Way However,  nothing so simple as following the map I’m afraid for they bear scant resemblance to the reality on the ground.   Or such was the case during the final week of May, 2014, when I set out to discover this legendary little literary gem for myself.      More than once I was thwarted in my attempt to connect the dots and pick my way down and along a promising narrow winding country lane, only to find myself ultimately steered into a meadow.     Washout on the road to Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan WayI even stumbled across a pair of fellow Montereggio seekers when, on realizing I had reached yet another dead end, and was duly enjoying a bit of bird watching from the comfort of my driver’s seat…  a spotless Sunday afternoon sedan came bumping and bouncing up the furrowed lane,  circled the pasture in my tire marks, and pulling up beside my car  promptly began to ask me for directions… rolling in uncontrollable convulsive laughter when they realized I was as lost as were they.      So you see, simply finding this place is no easy task.    But when you do,  what a lovely little gem of a village awaits.   True to  legend there really was a completely empty, overstocked,  fabulous bookstore…. doors wide open – and no one there.   Wild Cat Family, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy I did glimpse the famous magic cats as I made my way up and out of the village in the direction of the spectacularly situated local cemetery,  but throughout my visit not a human soul did I encounter.   Even aside from the rather special history of the place I thought the drama of Monterregio’s splendid lofty, isolated location; the spectacular nature of the scenery;  along with its rustic Italian architecture,   made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.    Perched upon its narrow outcrop this tiny little community would appear to have not only had a long and proud history, but has played a hand in several rebellions down through the years.       The elaborate storyboard mounted on three sides of the little church illustrates the fact perfectly well,  even if I didn’t understand much of the written details;  this was not,  and likely has never been,   an ordinary little hilltop village.     To date we have now visited several tiny village communities located along the North West Tuscan Way:   Casoli,  Tuscan Village of Art,   Montegiorri,  A Not So Hidden Gem,   Colonnata,  Lard Capitol of the World,  and now we are able add Montereggio a list that is to grow longer once we have visited even one or two more North West Tuscan Gems;  Barga, Bano di Lucca,  San Rocchino and more, as we make our way down to Lucca and back to Pisa.     I hope you enjoy today’s tour,    but should you get lost,  as you will,  perhaps more than once,  my advice is to simply pull over and enjoy the view,   get out of the car, and take an interesting walk around.  Go explore.    Have a great scroll.

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Bas relief marble sculpture, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, ItalyIf all of this appears to fly in the face of my previous comments in praise of the wonderful, and largely empty,   Lunigiana road system then I would like to add a word or two about washouts.   Lovely as they are,  North West Tuscan roads have been washed out practically everywhere,  along every mountain range.  Sometimes main roads are blocked, and one-way systems run along quite lengthy stretches of roadway.   But while these prove a minor inconvenience in perhaps having to wait a minute or two for the light to turn green they hardly register as a catastrophe.    Unless of course the section of road connects two villages located either side of a rushing river – then it means heading all the way back down to the main valley,  then up the other side… a very long detour indeed.   War memorial, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, ItalyBut what if one of these little back country lanes actually cuts through?   Sometimes they do.   And often they don’t,  but it’s a fun journey of discovery all the same.    Needless to say that, armed with ample persistence, dogged determination, and an unhurried schedule and I think you will do just fine.   Who knows,  perhaps in the intervening time since my 2014 visit they may have repaired a few of those semi-permanent washouts.   But then again,  perhaps one or two more have popped up.         By the way,  when you do eventually get there I suggest you first visit the old church for a bit of perspective on the place.    The somber wall plaque commemorating the villages war dead makes for incredibly grim reading:  so many names for such a speck of a village,   and so many from the same few families…. the poor Lazzarreli family.   Immediately upon seeing those names I was put in mind of my visit to Sant’Anna di Stazzema and the horrors committed against 650 helpless women, children and old folks.     Revered editor wall plaque, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, ItalyDuring the final weekend of my visit nearby Pontremoli threw a huge children’s book party as part of a literary festival that proved responsible for the completely open, completely empty bookstore.    I’m not even sure there was an honesty box to be honest.   I really have no idea what the financial arrangement was.  And no, I didn’t help myself to a book, in case that was what you are thinking!     Immediately upon leaving the bewilderingly empty book library I stumbled upon a most gorgeous family cats, but aside from them I encountered not another living being.     Following the broad processional road up and out of the village I was rewarded by meeting the entire previous inhabitants of Monterrregio as I gazed out from their dramatic and lofty cemetery  ideally situated high above the village.       Next: we are off on a bit of a road trip as we hop aboard own own classic Italian scooter and zip our way from Bagnone,  across a mountain pass or two… all the way up to the wonderful, partying town of Fivvizzano.   I hope you can join us…. just don’t forget to bring along your very best, fake fur parka.

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Across the valley towards Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Village on the road to Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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The Road to Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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The Road to Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Washout on the road to Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way

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The Bee 2, on the road to Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way

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The dense wooded countryside around Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Dense woodland around Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Panoramic view of Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Footpath above Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Footpath above Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way

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Sister sticker, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Arched alleyway, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Fixer upper

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Bas relief marble sculpture, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Bas relief marble sculpture, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Bas relief marble sculpture, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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War memorial, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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War memorial, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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War memorial, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way

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Unmanned bookstore, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Unmanned bookstore, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Unmanned bookstore, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Unmanned bookstore, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Unmanned bookstore, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Revered editor wall plaque, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Revered editor wall plaque, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Revered editor wall plaque, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Revered editor wall plaque, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Wild Cat Family, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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Wild Cat Family, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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and now

the slideshow

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Wild Cat Family, Montereggio, Lunigiana, on the North West Tuscan Way, Italy

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By way of a delightful contrast to driving your car to Monterregio you may wish to consider leaving it at B&B ill Ciliegiolo from where you are able to walk your feet along the beautiful and ancient footpath leading from the excellent accommodation provided by your genial, friendly and relaxed hosts Francesco and Eugenia, both expert forest foragers.     Directly across the yard from this delightful ivy clad guest house begins a most beautiful one-day hike; all the way up and down this extraordinarily fertile valley, with a delightful lunchtime Montereggio visit serving as the proverbial cherry on the cake.     The jam-packed week I spent in the charming and graceful company of my hosts unfortunately did not afford the opportunity for me to hike the route myself,  but the discoveries I made during my short daily walks hold much promise of a quite magnificent hike to come,   one day.

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Bed and Breakfast

iLL Ciliegiolo

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next

The North West Tuscan Way: In Pictures

Fivizzano, Lunigiana, Tuscany, Italy

Tour 19: Bagnone to Fivizzano

coming soon

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