Stage 11: From Fosdinovo to Sarzana
From the village of Fosdinovo - an extraordinary terrace overlooking the lower valley of the Magra river with a wide view of the islands and the Tyrrhenian coast - you will start a long but relaxing descent towards Sarzana. Here, chestnut forests are suddenly taken over by olive groves and vineyards and the human presence - roads, houses and businesses - becomes more and more evident. The ruins of the ancient Roman Luni and the delightful, lively fortified town of Sarzana (or its railway station) represent the last destination to be appreciated on our long journey from the great plain of the Po valley to the sea.
- Long route, but mostly downhill. In the last stretch (Via Francigena) on asphalted roads.
- Expect high temperatures in summer, due to low altitude. Frequent possibilities for water supply.
Description of the stage
Having crossed the ancient village of Fosdinovo along its main street (Via Roma), not without first having visited its magnificent castle, exit from its Southern gate (with a splendid and wide view of the lower valley of the Magra river and the Tyrrhenian coast) and reach Via Prato. Follow it up to the playground / tennis courts (pay attention to busy traffic on this short stretch) near which, on a sharp bend, take the path that begins to descend to Peschiera. Here begins a long descent on uneven ground, immersed in an unexpectedly wild environment, until you join the CAI 294 path towards the village of Gignago, which is gained after a short but steep climb. From Gignago, crossing Fosso del Vescovo, reach Caprognano where the route follows the CAI 303 path that goes South-West through an increasingly Mediterranean environment, graced by extensive olive groves, vineyards and oak woods, and get to Caniparola (from here possible detour to Luni, see details). From Caniparola, take the Via Francigena in the opposite direction (stage 25 Sarzana-Massa), initially on a paved road, then take the cycle-pedestrian path of the Lunense Canal and then follow the Luparello path, which leads directly to the fortress of Sarzanello, also known as the Fortress of Castruccio. Here, the path deserves a short detour to go up to the fortress and to take a tour of the moats, from which you can appreciate the fortress imposing walls and its impressive architectural features. From this vantage point also enjoy the wonderful panorama of the Magra valley, with the background of the port of Bocca of Magra and of the Caprione promontory and, above all, an aerial view of the city of Sarzana, with its towers and steeples. Back on the path, you will quickly reach the center of Sarzana. Following the main street, passing by the tower house of the Bonaparte (Sarzanese patricians from whom Napoleon Bonaparte descended) you will arrive in Piazza Matteotti, seat of the Town Hall, where the Sentiero dei Ducati ends.
If you wished to continue your walk through the beauties of Italy and to go back to the starting point of the Sentiero dei Ducati, without retracing the places already visited, you could walk down the Via Francigena towards Lucca from where you could take backwards the Via Matildica del Volto Santo to come back to Reggio Emilia. Alternatively, you could follow backwards the Via Francigena, which from Sarzana passes Porta Parma and leads across the Emilian Apennines to Berceto - Fornovo - Fidenza and finally Parma, next door city to Reggio Emilia.
In Caniparola restaurant and, 500 meters towards SS. Aurelia, hostel for overnight stay and dinner (for info Mr. Tommaso Paturzo 340 7180191)
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