Our Montemarcello Travel Guide, is here to help you find :
Montemarcello is a charming Ligurian village, sitting on top of the Caprione promontory and nestled among green olive groves, pine trees and Mediterranean maquis.
Panoramic view of the town
(Click on the image for a Virtual Walk around town)
Reaching the village from town of Lerici is a real treat as you ride along the scenic road surrounded by different local vegetation and taking glimpses of the extraordinary views over the Gulf of La Spezia, the river Magra and its valley, the Apuane Alps and the coast stretching from Massa-Carrara to Versilia. No wonder it was elected in 2007 among The 100 Most Beautiful Villages in Italy .
Piazza XIII Dicembre, Montemarcello
It owes its name to the Roman consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who defeated the Liguri Apuani here in 155 BC. The reported birth of the village dates to 1474, the year Montemarcello became a parish.
You can enter the village from the North side through the ancient gate part of the city walls built in 15th century to surround the village. Unfortunately, nowadays you can only see a few remaining sections of the walls as they were destroyed in the World War II.
Close to the entrance gate, there are old oil-press millstones which have been transformed into dwellings. As well as you will be hard to miss the round defence tower.
Walking along the internal network of its narrow alleyways, you can sense the Roman influence in the village’s planning structure which is in fact unique among the neighboring settlements. The alleyways here are cut at right angles, perpendicular to each other resembling a Roman "castrum".
It is lovely to get lost among this labyrinth of quiet passageways transporting you to a different time and then again taking a break in one of the dotted cafeterias or local restaurants.
There are many possibilities to taste the local specialities
At the western end of the village, you stumble upon the parish church of San Pietro, whose construction dates back to 1474, but was extensively rebuilt in the 17th century, according to the canons of the Baroque style. The small chapel on the left side is the original part of the building.
The Church of San Pietro
Inside you can admire several well-preserved works of art, including a marble altarpiece depicting Jesus Christ, S. Sebastiano and S. Rocco, dating from 1529, attributed to Domenico Gar, and a wooden triptych of the 14th century, depicting the Virgin of the Rosary, attributed to the so-called Master of Borsigliana.
In the south side of the village you can see the remains of a military fort that overlooks the coast to Livorno...
From the top of the Caprione promontory on which Montemarcello sits you can enjoy breathtaking panoramas stretching from the Gulf of Poets in the west to the east over the Magra valley all the way to the coast of Versilia.
The whole area is considered one of the most interesting areas in Liguria from environmental point of view and was included in a Regional Natural Park (www.parcomagra.it ) from 1995. The National Park of Montemarcello offers variety of spectacular hiking trails to explore both suitable for experienced hikers as well as families. The great views, the scents of the woods and the colours of the country all make for an unforgettable hiking experience.
If you are fascinated by the vegetation in the area then a visit to the Botanical Garden in the Park is a must too. The garden is situated on the summit of Mount Murlo, where, thanks to the particular weather conditions, it is possible to enjoy different and typical kinds of vegetation: Mediterranean maquis, garigue, Aleppo pine woods, and deciduous oak woods.
Some of the plants are protected species, such as the cream narcissus and several wild orchids like the brightly colored yellow orchid (Orchis provincialis Balb.). Moreover, the garden also houses a large collection of medicinal plants. You can enjoy guided visits around the Garden and environmental education activities too.
Montemarcello is also close to the Liguria border with Tuscany, an area known as Lunigiana, and from here one can easily visit the towns of Lucca, Carrara, Viareggio, Montecatini, even Pisa and Florence.
Whether with bus or car, the town of Sarzana is well worth a visit too. This ancient city, dating to 963 AC, is built around the Castle and the old town, surrounded by the old city walls, is a treasure trove of small workshops, businesses and the marvels of the Italian everyday life. There are lots of bars and restaurants that contribute to a lively nightlife.
The Fortress of Sarzanello, Sarzana
For the beach lovers, there are steep trails connecting the country to the picturesque and secluded beaches of Punta Corvo and Punta Bianca (more easily accessible via a boat service leaving from Bocca di Magra and Fiumaretta).
Around 11 secluded beaches are dotted around the coastline in the area
The small beaches are scattered along the harsh coast between Montemarcello and Lerici and originated from landslides that were later shaped by the sea.
The beaches are famous for their tranquility and clear water
The beach of Punta Corvo is also called "spiaggione" (big beach) as it is the biggest of them all; its sand is dark grey since it originated from the surrounding stones of the same color. The water is so clear that the rocky sea bottom can be seen at a few meters from the shore.
The beach at Punto Corvo
A short drive away are also the charming beaches of Lerici as well as the massive beach resort in Tuscany, Forte dei Marmi.
Punta Bianca on the other hand is situated at the southern tip of the Montemarcello promontory. It gets its name from the white limestone rocky crops which were used in the Roman epoch for decorative purposes in the buildings of the town of Luni.
Nearby, tucked amongst the Mediterranean maquis, is located the Santa Croce Monastery. It was built by the Benedictine monks in 1176 on the remains of a small church built by a monk in memory of a boat which, according to the legend, mysteriously landed without sailors and transporting Nicodemo's crucifix and the "Preziosissimo Sangue" relic. What is left of the ancient church is the apse and part of the presbytery which was converted into a chapel: in it, you can find a wooden crucifix of Oriental tradition, called "Crocifisso del Corvo".
End of June - Enjoy the annual Exhibit/Market of Flowers and Plants
Last Weekend of August - holds the Festa del Fico ( the Festival of the Figs)
The rocky and barren ground of the area around Montemarcello makes for perfect conditions in the cultivation of figs. Do not leave the area without testing the exceptional figs , called "binèi". You can eat them freshly picked or dried as a filling for salted focaccia .
With Montemarcello being so close to the sea, the seafood is dominant in the local specialities. The boiled octopus with potatoes, is a must taste dish and the direct result of fishing in Punta Corvo. The cod is also worth a taste as is prepared following local traditions.
One of the main traditional dish of the area is the "tagiain a menestron", a soup made of mixed season vegetables and homemade pasta. During the summer months locals flavour the cooked soup with fresh basil leaves while in the winter it is enriched with dried beans.
There are two special olive oils in this area. The Lavagnina and Razzola varieties give the olive oil a sweet and fruity taste. While the Leccine and “Olivastri” varieties have a different taste, typical of the seaside area, which gives the oil more acid, strong and highly flavoured taste.
The wine lovers will not be disappointed too . Historically, there are two kinds of wine produced in this region. The white comes from the grapes growing in the area around Trebbiano and Vermentino and its taste is dry and smooth. The red is mainly produced with Sangiovese and black Ciliegiolo grapes: if properly aged it becomes garnet red with intense and dry taste. Some produce golden wine made from resins similar in taste to Sciachetrà of the Cinque Terre .
The arrows move you up, down, left and right (or grab the screen and pull in any direction)
The + and - to zoom you in and out
The "Map" button shows the village in map illustration form
The "Satellite" button shows La Serra in satellite images (zoom in for detail!)
The "Terrain" button shows an artistic rendering of the terrain that covers the village (zoom out to use this feature)
You can zoom in and out, finding the best scale and then print it to .pdf and bring it along on vacation! You definitely won't find a more detailed, up to date map online or on vacation.
Thank you for visiting our guide… we look forward to welcoming you to Liguria and hope you will love it as much as we do !
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