Chapter #1

The town without a centre

Ten thousand inhabitants and eighteen hamlets. That's the beauty of Montignoso, the town that doesn't have a centre. To visit it, you have to travel up and down the streets that climb from the sea of ​​the Cinquale to the 800 metre peak of Mount Pasquilio, dominated by Monte Corchia, once the site of marble quarries. And where is the municipality? In Piazza, not even one of the most populated hamlets, within Villa Schiff which belonged to the historic Giorgini family. The fact that the municipality is not based in the most populated or even the most beautiful hamlet sums up the uniqueness of Montignoso, it is a geographically diverse territory with a double soul. We pass from the heat of the crowded beaches to the freshness of the pine and chestnut woods, filled with foxes and buzzards. In Montignoso, you can find dwarf ferns which is the only place in the Mediterranean where they can live. There are also birds such as the Knight of Italy and the riparian swallow. On one side it borders with the VIP seaside resorts of Forte dei Marmi, and on the other there is a spectacular view where mountains and sea come together, featuring the magnificent Monte Pasquilio. On clear days, you can even spot the Tuscan Archipelago and Corsica in the background.

Chapter #2

Mino Maccari among the partisans on the Gothic Line of the Apuan

Many have fallen in love with Versilia and celebrated it through art. Pier Paolo Pasolini referred to it in ‘Le ceneri di Gramsci’, Gabriele D'Annunzio in ‘L 'Alcyone’ and then again, Attilio Bertolucci and Ardengo Soffici, who died a little further on, in Vittoria Apuana. Many artists have chosen it, and not just for a golden holiday. The Sienese painter Mino Maccari wanted to live here in his later years and moved to Cinquale, where he built a house surrounded by greenery. During the Second World War, Maccari refused to take service under the Republic of Salò and joined the partisans of Montignoso. The Gothic Line crossed Monte Pasquilio, it was the scene of battles and today guardian of testimonies. Maccari is buried in these lands, in the cemetery of San Vito.

Chapter #3

The miracle of the deer that delineates a border

Every place has its legends and traditions. Montignoso has a rich collection. The most told tale is that of ‘the deer’ that tells of how a deer jumped while escaping a hunter, and thanks to the Madonna, leaped beyond the Aurelia. The miraculous jump delineates the historic boundary between Lucca and Massa. The night of San Vito marked a rite of tradition when the young people of the country "stole" anything the villagers left unattended. The stolen goods were piled up in piazza del Comune, where the next morning the rightful owners could recover them. The smirking “thieves” lined up in the piazza or along the wall of the Cardinals' garden. But the most poignant tradition is certainly that of the Pefana, a historic tradition that takes place on the eve of the Epiphany. In the past, small processions of young people covered with cloaks, hats and masks travelled the streets of the villages with noise-makers and bells. They knocked on the doors of the houses offering sweets and other small gifts to the children. In return they received hot drinks without uttering a word.

Photo by: Andrea D'Angiolo