The Serchio Valley
Stopping for a few hours or a few months in the villages atop the mountains allows you to discover profoundly different traditions and rhythms
The marvellous Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge), which has resisted imperturbably the flood of the Serchio for hundreds of years, marks the border and, beyond this point, the urban dimension becomes a mere memory. Once this frontier has been passed, everything changes. Stopping for a few hours or a few months in the villages atop the mountains allows you to discover profoundly different traditions and rhythms. Each of these little inhabited centres, which have developed over the centuries, was surrounded by agricultural land, woodland and pastureland and was a real microcosm of self-production. Walking along the hillside paths, you discover farm villas, old mills and crumbling monasteries. Climbing up, there are high-altitude pastures, metato (small buildings used for drying chestnuts) and fortifications like towers, fortresses and castles. It’s striking how such a small area can have so many examples of military architecture. Erasmus of Rotterdam wrote, “War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.” This will be why the villages of the valley are able to give a feeling of peace without equal.