LUCCA & MASSA-CARRARA PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

LUCA

Located in northern Tuscany, the Province of Lucca embodies four different areas from the Versilia Coast, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea to Garfagnana, bordering with Emilia Romagna in the northeast and further inland, the Valle del Serchio and the Piana di Lucca.

Magnificent sceneries created by changing landscapes that succeed each other, The Parco delle Alpi Apuane provides a striking backdrop to the blue sea and golden beaches of Versilia, while the hills are covered by olive groves and woods dominate the landscape of Garfagnana.

This territory is home to numerous other wonders, from the thermal springs of Bagni di Lucca, with its mesmerizing scenery, to Lake Massaciuccoli and the coastal dunes of the Migliarino-San Rossore Massaciuccoli.

Rich in tradition and history the Province, gives thanks to its central position and has been a thriving trade hub for centuries. Traversed by the renowned Medieval pilgrimage route, The Via Francigena, along which lie an assortment of villages, castles, abbeys and parish churches.

The countryside around Lucca we find a variety of beautiful historic villas surrounded by spectacular parks, from Villa Torrigiani to Villa Mansi.

Elegant reminders of the past that coexist with the social life and entertainment scene offered in Versilia’s seaside resorts, including Viareggio, Lido di Camaiore, Pietrasanta and Forte di Marmi.

One of the first stops on any tour of this province must be Lucca itself, this city of ancient origins on the Serchio river, surrounded by the famous Renaissance boundary walls dating back to the 16th Century.

An incredible work of military engineering, still well preserved with its ramparts, eleven bastions and three gates, which today is a unique scenic public parks zone.

The old town is particularly evocative keeping intact its Medieval appearance composed of typical narrow streets and piazzas overlooked by stone towers, tower-houses and brick houses with arcades.

Among the most typical streets, Via Fillungo stands out, being surrounded by noble buildings and ancient towers the likes of the famous Torre delle Ore.

Equally worth noting is Via Guinigi, where the complex of Medieval buildings built by well-to-do families is concentrated.

Examples of particularly notable architecture include the Duomo di San Martino with magnificent facade and interiors rich in precious artworks; the Duomo Museum housing paintings, sculptures and liturgical furnishings; the Chiesa di San Michele in Foro, a unique example of Pisan-Lucchese architecture; and the splendid Basilica of San Frediano.

Impressive examples of civil architecture are the 15th Century Villa di Paolo Guinigi, site of the National Museum showcases Etruscan and Roman archaeological finds together with several painting collections.

The site of Lucca's second National Museum is Palazzo Mansi with its priceless furnishings and the 17th-Century Palazzo Moriconi-Pfanner, a sublime example of Lucchese Baroque, surrounded by a spectacular garden.

The birth house of musician Giacomo Puccini is found at Corte San Lorenzo, 9 which has been converted into a museum showcasing the maestro’s documents and mementoes. A short distance from the museum, Torre Guingi is found en route to the gorgeous Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.

Originally an Amphitheatre built outside the Roman town, which has today become the centre of town life and the very symbol of Lucca.

It is a unique elliptical-shaped Piazza, theatre of the life of the citizens, closed in an embrace of medieval houses which is reached through four gateways located at the four vertices of the ellipse. A cross is carved into the central tile of the square with the arms pointing to the four gateways.

Amongst the provinces historic sites, Altopascio of great significance in Medieval times is located along the Via Francigena.

The village preserves Romanesque-style buildings, churches and the famous 13th-Century bell tower, which once guided travellers with its tolls.

Within Versilia, we find Viareggio, famous for its carnival but also for its beaches and nightlife; the elegant Forte dei Marmi; Pietrasanta and its rich artistic heritage and Camaiore, with its Romanesque architecture.

Offering magnificent scenery and numerous hilltop and mountain villages to explore, parallel to the Apuane ridge, lies the Garfagnana, the name for the area encompassing the Valle del Serchio north of Lucca.

Step back in time around characteristic villages such as Borgo a Mozzano, famous for its spectacular Devil’s Bridge and Barga, an enchanting Medieval village with prized architecture.

Other typical towns of Garfagnana are Castelvecchio Pascoli, featuring Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli house-museum and chapel that guards his remains and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, whose Duomo and Fortress are nestled in a spectacular and inspiring landscape.

This is one of Tuscany's least-explored yet most spectacular corners, and much of it is protected as a regional nature reserve where the Alpi Apuane offer a 60km spread of genuinely Alpine spectacle.

Now a protected regional park, the Apuane is crisscrossed by numerous marked trails starting from roads and heading deep into the mountains; the biggest concentration of these tracks is in the peaks east of Forte dei Marmi and Pietrasanta, centred on Pania della Croce (1,859m) and Monte Forato (1,223m).

Thanks to their position and height, the Apuane are a perfect combination of different ecological habitats, from tundra through Alpine meadow to Mediterranean grassland.

The most noticeable plant life is the immense forests of chestnut and beech, which cover virtually all the lower slopes and offer shelter to some of the mountains' 300 species of birds.

The provincial calendar is full of events, from the Carnevale di Viareggio, the national literary prize Viareggio Rèpaci (in June) and the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago (July and August).

Of the many historical re-enactments, the Calderon d’Altopascio (July)  is one worth attending and some important religious festivals are the Luminara Procession of Santa Croce to Lucca (September) and the Procioni Procession of Garfagnana di Castiglione held on Maundy Thursday.

We truly believe that every province of Tuscany has something beautiful and unique to offer, as we do your research in advance, you can’t really go wrong, in destinations where you can have everything.

Oh before we forget, if you love food, this is truly the food heaven. Tuscany is indeed the essence of Italy in many ways.

The sheer quantity of subject matter, mixed with a wonderful Mediterranean climate makes this an ideal location to explore your photography, learn new techniques and create lasting memories from your finest photography tour.

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MASSA-CARRARA

The Province is named after the two main towns in its territory, Massa, the provincial capital and Carrara.

It is Tuscany’s northernmost province, shares its borders with Liguria and Emilia Romagna and is divided into two zones the Apuan Riviera and Lunigiana.

Except for the Apuan Riviera, a short coastline of beaches covering Montignoso, Massa Carrara and Versilia the province is mainly mountainous and hilly affair and home to the Apuan Alps.

This mountain range is only a short distance from the sea and is a rich paradise for photographers and nature lovers, both in summer and in winter, offering the possibility to stay in comfortable mountain refuges.

Prestigious Carrara marble has been used since the time of Ancient Rome and the Apuan Alps above Carrara show signs of at least 650 quarry sites which have produced more marble than any other place on earth.

Marble from Carrara is still appreciated as some of the most remarkable landmarks of Rome including The Pantheon and Trajan’s Column.

The Duomo di Siena, London’s infamous Marble Arch and the Peace Monument in Washington are amongst some of the other notable worldwide homes of this treasured stone.

These astonishing white marble quarries in the heart of the mountains are awe-inspiring and unique, revealing themselves as a gleaming vision before your very own eyes.

Enter the mountain's heart and experience, feel and photograph the same “white gold” preferred by artists like Michelangelo and Canova.

Travelling further north, one reaches, Lunigiana the provinces second zone, embedded within two natural parks, Parco Alpi Apuane and Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco-Emiliano.

Lunigiana offers various interesting photo opportunities and is engulfed among green hills, castles, romantic Romanesque abbey churches. Beginning with Fosdinovo dominated by a Medieval castle, Aulla is home to the majestic 14th Century Brunella Fortress and the Museum of Natural History.

Crossing the Passo del Cerreto, one arrives in Fivizzano, with its ancient walls and Museo della Stampa.

The Abbey Church of Sorano, near Filattiera, is a treasured Romanesque monument with a striking apse - set amidst a pristine environment.

Pontremoli is located in high Lunigiana and bears a significant artistic legacy: the magnificent Castello del Piagnaro is home to the Museum of Stele Statues; the Cathedral and the village’s characteristic alleys.

Finally, embraced within luxuriant nature and dense woods lies Zeri, famous for its gastronomy including the typical Zerasco lamb.

On the coast lies Carrara, known internationally as the "city of marble," surrounded by the white bastion of the Apuan Alps. The main square Piazza Alberica is a vast and beautiful space.

It’s the ‘living room’ of the city that hosts festivals during the summer. Surrounded by elegant and colourful, marble decorated, 15th and 16th Century buildings, notably the Palazzo dei Conti del Medico.

In addition to valuable monuments that include the Duomo di Sant’Andrea Apostolo, built out of marble and its Romanesque-Gothic façade, the 16th-Century Cybo Malaspina residence, and the majestic Palazzo delle Logge, Carrara also offers educational tours at the Museo Civico del Marmo and the sculptors' and artists' workshops present nearby.

Next door, Massa proudly nestles between the coast and green hills at the feet of the Apuan Alps and is dominated by the 15th Century Malaspina fortress.

Within the old town, we find the Medieval quarter, comprised of narrow, winding streets and the 16th-Century section, built by the Cybo Malaspinas, the area's noble families of the day.

Other sights include the Duomo, the 16th Century Palazzo Ducale, Piazza degli Aranci and Piazza Mercurio.

Both these old town centres are ideal for creating images from photo walks during which one can admire the local art and shop at the same time.

All this is just a few miles from the ample beaches of the Apuan Coast, an ideal extension of Versilia that embody Cinquale di Montignoso, Poveromo, Ronchi, Marina di Massa and Marina di Carrara.

Outside the city are the extremely impressive marble quarries, such as the Cava Museo di Fantiscritti.

In the village of  Campocecina, where one can admire the Parco della Memoria and the Cava dei Poeti, where the quotations of illustrious persons and poets were engraved into the walls for the 2002 Biennale.

This province proposes a varied calendar of events such as the Premio Bancarella in Pontremoli during July, the Mare-Monti-Marmo themed Premio Nazionale di Pittura and the Mostra dell’artigianato del Marmo e Simposio Internazionale di Scultura, an artisan exhibit of marble and sculpture in Carrara.

In the spectacular setting of the marble quarries, there is the historical re-enactment of La Lizzatura, the ancient method by which miners transported the blocks of marble downhill into the valley.

Some of the most important festivals are the Disfida tra gli Arcieri di Terra e di Corte.

A dual Between the Court and People's Archers in Fivizzano and the Feast Day of San Francesco in Massa.

Numerous other ‘Sagre’ celebrate the provinces many typical products, including the lard fest in Colonnata, that of  blueberries in Massa and the Sagra of San Domenichino in Marina di Massa.

We truly believe that every province of Tuscany has something beautiful and unique to offer, as we do your research in advance, you can’t really go wrong, in destinations where you can have everything.

Oh before we forget, if you love food, this is truly the food heaven. Tuscany is indeed the essence of Italy in many ways.

The sheer quantity of subject matter, mixed with a wonderful Mediterranean climate makes this an ideal location to explore your photography, learn new techniques and create lasting memories from your finest photography tour.

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TOWNS AND CITIES IN THE PROVINCE OF LUCA

Altopascio, Bagni di Lucca, Barga, Borgo a Mozzano, Camaiore, Camporgiano, Careggine, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Castiglione di Garfagnana, Coreglia Antelminelli, Fabbriche di Vergemoli, Forte dei Marmi, Fosciandora, Gallicano, Lucca, Massarossa, Minucciano, Molazzana, Montecarlo, Pescaglia, Piazza al Serchio, Pietrasanta, Pieve Fosciana, San Romano in Garfagnana, Seravezza, Sillano Giuncugnano, Stazzama, Vaglia Sotto, Viareggio, Villa Basilica and Villa Collemandina.

TOWNS AND CITIES IN THE PROVINCE OF MASSA CARRARA

Aulla, Bagnone, Carrara, Casola in Lunigiana, Comano, Filattiera, Fivizzano, Fosdinovo, Licciana, Nardi, Massa, Montignoso, Mulazzo, Podenzana, pontremoli, Tresana, Villafranca in Lunigiana and Zeri.

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