Chapter #1

Taking a break between Rome and Lucca

In the second century BC, Agliana must have seemed like a modern service station. At least, it must have been seen thus by the pilgrims of later centuries, who stopped here along the Via Cassia to refresh themselves, before setting out again on a road which, at that time, one could walk from Lucca to Rome, and of which one can still walk large stretches. The road is named after Caius or Lucius Cassius, but it was Titus Quinctius Flaminius, consul between 150 and 123 BC, who built its final tract, which runs from Florence (Fiesole Florentia) to Lucca, and which passed through the modern-day Agliana. Here there was a resting point called "Station Hellana", where the road that crossed the Agna Valley intersected with it. Hellana later became Aliana and finally Agliana, a town with Roman-ness not only in its name but also in its natural bent towards trade and self-governance.

Chapter #2

Fate in the roads

Roads facilitate commerce and trade, but also help invaders. Agliana fought, and lost, its first battle for autonomy in the early tenth century, which it fought alongside the whole Pistoiese area against the common enemy of Hungarians and Saracens. It was one of the main centres of Tuscia in the Lombard era, under the dominion of the Franks. Traces of this Germanic rule can still be seen in the names of various hamlets, where, one imagines, German warbands were stationed. Hence Alammanesco, whence came Ommannesco, or Terra Bethinga and Terra Loteringa. And it was also thanks to the consular roads that many important abbeys and hospices were built around Agliana, to rest and succour the pilgrims and wayfarers. But it was the new stretch of the Via Cassia that really boosted the growth of the city.

Chapter #3

The ancient Via Cassia: ever central

Today the ancient Via Cassia is a main road, and Agliana finds itself at an important crossroads between Florence, Pistoia and Lucca. The town's centrality has historically always made a difference, whether in the draining of the plain, which brought great demographic and economic development to the area, or the birth of the enterprises which define it even today: the textile industry, the craft of pottery, fish farming and food production. Over time, these industries have been honed to a superlative level.

Photo by: Massimiliano Galardi