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49.5 km - Altitude gain 350mt

Massa - Lucca

Massa -

Lucca

Wednesday 08  May 2024 49.5km Altitude gain 350mt
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Massa

Panoramica

Massa is an Italian municipality capital of the Province of Massa-Carrara in Tuscany.
Located at the north-western end of the region, bordering with Liguria, the city extends on an alluvial plain, although the largest part is mountainous, reaching up to 891 meters in height in the area of the Apuan Alps.
The origins of Massa undoubtedly date back to Roman times, when the first settlements were established near the Frigido river, where the first human settlements were found. From the mid-1400s, Massa was ruled for centuries by the Malaspina family, becoming Marquisate, a period in which the town reached its maximum splendor.
Today, Massa is a modern industrial and commercial center, linked to the seaside town Marina di Massa. The historical center of the town is rich in churches and Renaissance buildings. The Malaspina Castle, the majestic Palazzo Ducale (16th century), the Cathedral Church SS. Francesco and Peter (14th cent.), the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art are not to be missed. Just outside the town center is Villa La Rinchiostra, which houses the Museum dedicated to the artist Gigi Guadagnucci, the Apuan Ethnological Museum and the Church of S. Leonardo al Frigido.
The coastal part, Marina di Massa, where there are still numerous aristocratic villas which were built in the Art Nouveau style, including Villa Corsi, Villa Doria and Villa Franca, became famous as a prestigious seaside resort from the 19th century onwards. Even today, thanks to the numerous “Blue Flag” beaches and tourist accommodation, Massa represents one of the most crowded and popular tourist centers in Tuscany.
The historic center and the coastal part are embraced by numerous characteristic mountain villages, which, with their intriguing surroundings , attract numerous tourists in search of real experiences linked to the territory that allow them to experience a unique feeling immersed in unspoilt landscapes of nature and breathtaking scenery.

Gastronomy

Alps, hills and the sea create a precious area that provides Massa with a climate favourable to the cultivation of garlic with small and sweet cloves, round onions with a reddish colour, sweet and crisp and citrus fruits such as lemon, orange and citron. Sheltered from the northern winds and softened by the influence of the sea, from 1500 the cultivation of citrus fruits became characteristic, with the lemons shipped to the Marina from passing ships as an effective remedy against scurvy.
Their peel is prized for producing the fragrant limoncino, a liqueur to be sipped at the end of a meal as a digestive. Citrus fruits are mainly found in the villages of Castagnetola and Lavacchio, up to the banks of the Frigido river.
The chestnut groves of the mountains offer a light and very sweet flour capable of feeding entire generations in the hardest periods.
Among the typical dishes are Tordelli (‘tortedi’), ravioli made of pasta stuffed with meat and herbs, flavoured with thyme and savory, cooked in boiling water, when they rise to the surface, they are ready to be served with an excellent meat sauce.
The rice cake, prepared at Easter or at village festivals, is an expression of re birth and opulence. There is no original recipe but in principle they all have a base of rice covered with a cream that has a pudding-like consistency. For the cream, various liqueurs are mixed together, such as alkermes, sassolino or limoncino. Some people even add half a mint sweet.
The “Cucina” ( the kitchen) , a late winter soup made from freshly sprouted wild herbs.
The “Castagnaccio” which is a cake made of chestnut flour, milk and water enriched with walnuts, pine nuts and sultanas,orange peel and rosemary.
The ‘ciorchiello’, a doughnut from Casette, which is made with bread dough, eggs, butter, pine nuts, sultanas and aniseed seeds was hung in the past from an olive branch for the Palm Sunday blessing.

Wines and beverages

Candia dei Colli Apuani D.O.C. wine is produced in the municipalities of Massa, Carrara and Montignoso and it represents the best accompaniment to most traditional dishes. The beneficial influence of the sea breeze and the sun that kisses the Candia hills allow the grapes ripen quickly and dryly, guaranteeing a wine of the highest quality.

Two types of white are produced
– the amabile white, a blend (mixture of grapes) comprising Vermentino at 70/80%, Albarola at 10/20% and Malvasia at 5%, indicated (suggested) for rice cake, fruit tarts, chestnut cake, trifle lardo di Colonnata, soft cheeses.
– the dry white, a blend comprising of Vermentino 80%, Albarola 10-20%, Malvasia 5% and other unspecified 5% vines, indicated for soups and fish starters, pasta with wild mushrooms and veal with a tuna sauce (bavette ai funghi e vitello tonnato)

Candia dei Colli Apuani DOC is also produced in the following types:
– Vermentino black DOC
– Vermentino white DOC
– Massaretta DOC
– Candia Rosso DOC

Points of interest

The City of Massa is characterized by its many monuments and sites of historical and artistic interest. Worthy of special mention is ‘Piazza Aranci’, the heart and symbol of the town, surrounded by the unique double row of orange trees. In the center of the square is the obelisk that was placed there at the request of the Este family and then, between 1886-’87, four marble lions resting on fountains were placed at its base.
The eastern side of Piazza Aranci is dominated, for a length of 82 meters, by ‘Palazzo Ducale’, whose transformation began in the 16th century at the request of Alberico I Cybo Malaspiva who wanted to move his residence there. Today, the building is the seat of the Province and Prefecture of Massa Carrara, it can be visited and often hosts exhibitions and conferences.
In the center you can also admire the ‘Duomo di Massa’ dedicated to St Francis. In 1808, after the demolition of the church of San Pietro, it became the main church of the City, and in 1824 it was elevated to Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of the Massa diocese.
Another great symbol of the City is the ‘Malaspina Castle’, which dominates the territory by looking over the city. It is a fortification composed of three elements: the medieval keep, the Renaissance palace and the city walls. After having been the residence of the Malaspina marquises, in the second half of the 17th century it was given a military function until it became a prison.
Another point of interest is the ‘Gigi Guadagnucci Museum’ located in the 17th-century Villa della Rinchiostra. Since 2012, the museum has exhibited the works of the sculptor Guadagnucci, who wished to donate them to his hometown, thus creating the first local museum centre of contemporary art. The historic center of Massa also hosts the ‘Museo Diocesano’, in which artwork ranging from the Middle Ages to the Baroque are on display, and the ‘Rifugio Antiaereo della Martana – R.A.M.’. This is a tunnel dug into the rock, built between 1942 and 1943, capable of accommodating thousands of people, but in September ’44 it was occupied by Nazi troops guarding the Gothic Line.
The wonders of the area can also be seen while leaving Massa, such as the ‘Orto Botanico delle Alpi Apuane Pellegrini-Ansaldi’ at Pian della Fioba, which owes its name to the Massese physician and botanist Pietro Pellegrini, or the church of San Gemignano located on a rocky ridge in the hamlet of Antona. Moving towards the sea, it is possible to visit the seaside resort of Marina di Massa characterized by its 8.5 km of beaches scattered by a few artificial reefs.

Lucca

Overview

Provincial capital of Tuscany, Lucca is a city steeped in ancient history, but also a lively cultural centre full of important events. Famous for its perfectly preserved 16th century city walls, it is characterised by its numerous precious monuments dating back to a past when Lucca was one of the most important cities of the Italian Middle Ages.

Local cusine

The territory of Lucca offers a wide variety of culinary excellences. On the table, two cornerstones of traditional cuisine are the zuppa frantoiana, a soup made with vegetables and aromatic herbs combined with a puree of beans and laid bread, to be seasoned strictly with extra virgin olive oil fresh from the mill. Another typical dish par excellence, served on the tables of restaurants and families on feast days, are the tordelli lucchesi (spelled with a “d” instead of the usual “t”), pasta stuffed with meat and seasoned with beef and pork ragout. Then, springtime means Garmugia, a soup of noble origins with seasonal vegetables and ground meat. Also not to be missed is spelt soup, very creamy, prepared with different types of beans. Among the Slow Food presidia are red beans.

Main courses include rovellina (beef repassed in tomato and caper sauce), fried poultry and vegetable stews, simple but tasty, accompanied by the fragrant DOC wines of the Lucchesi Hills and Montecarlo.

Other specialities include buccellato, a simple, bread-like cake, rich in sultanas and aniseed, and torta co’ becchi, a shortcrust pastry base filled with chard, pine nuts, sultanas, stale bread and spices, which is also available in a chocolate version. Typical liqueurs to pleasantly end a meal are biadina and china Massagli, with a slightly bitter herbal taste.

Points of interest

One cannot say to have seen Lucca without a tour of the Walls, 4.2 kilometres long and 12 metres high, which offer a spectacular and ever-changing view of the monuments, churches and palaces of the city embraced by their mighty ramparts.

Another unmistakable symbol of the city is the Guinigi Tower, with its garden of holm oaks on top of the building. To reach the terrace of the elegant tower, built by the noble Guinigi family, 230 steps must be climbed.

In the heart of the historic centre, a stop at the splendid Piazza Anfiteatro is an absolute must. It has a unique elliptical shape and was built on the remains of the Roman amphitheatre. One of Lucca’s most iconic sights, the square is surrounded by restaurants and shops.

Lucca, a jewel of art and culture and for centuries a city-state, is at the crossroads of historical pilgrimage routes, above all the Via Francigena due to the presence of the very ancient Volto Santo, the oldest wooden statue in the West, kept in the cathedral of San Martino and celebrated in September with the so-called Luminara, a long and highly attended procession through the streets of the old town lit by thousands of small candles.

The centre of the city – whose history can be learned in the museum of Villa Guinigi and in the Palazzo Ducale, inhabited by Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Bonaparte – is Piazza San Michele, the ancient Roman Forum characterised by its stupendous church on whose façade stands the large marble statue of the archangel Michael.

Lucca is the city of music, from Luigi Boccherini and Alfredo Catalani to its most famous and illustrious citizen, the great opera composer Giacomo Puccini, whose birthplace is in Corte San Lorenzo, now the Puccini Museum, which, filled with the scores and costumes of the Maestro’s operas, is one of the most visited places in the city. Let’s not forget Palazzo Mansi, a national museum where visitors can relive the splendour of Lucca, and Palazzo Pfanner with its marvellous Baroque garden, the set of many international films.

Among the most characteristic streets is Via dei Fossi. Its moat was built in 1376 to defend the city and the water was later used to run numerous craft workshops. Walking along Via dei Fossi allows visitors to breathe in the popular and industrious spirit of Lucca and to explore some of its most interesting spots, from the 16th-century Villa Bottini-Buonvisi to Porta San Gervasio, one of the two gates of the medieval walls that still exist, to the delightful 19th-century Botanical Garden that houses some centuries-old trees.

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