Starting from La Chicca, our holiday home in Casola, the mountain road to Carrara was not the road through Fosdinovo, which we had used a previous day when we visited Fosdinovo. It was the one from Gragnola, which I don’t think a bus could navigate now. We ascended up and up, and eventually stopped in a village way up in the mountains, where we found two people in the process of making their own wine. It was also notable that there were several memorials to the Second World War partisan movement displayed around the village and accounts of the people involved. (I’m not even sure which village it was – looking at the map it could have been either Viano or Tenerano, depending on which road we were on).
After this village, we descended again and then started to go up again, at which point there was a warning notice about the road, although having got so far we were reluctant to turn back. It was in this part that there was subsidence in several places, including one place where there was a ‘step’ up of about 20 cm. In another place, about half the road had disappeared, although it was cordoned off. (At this point, we decided we would not return by the same route later.)
However, the descent into Carrara was more enjoyable, as we got in the slipstream (but not too close) of a lorry taking a huge block of marble down to Carrara from one of the quarries. He didn’t seem to like to use the brake too much, and intimidated every other vehicle coming up out of his way on the narrow roads. We felt very safe behind this fellow.
If you ask me why we enjoyed our time so much in the area, it is hard to be definitive. It was waking in the morning to the sound of the church bell and the peacefulness of the countryside (except for the dogs barking). It was visiting places in the footsteps of Puccini (Lucca), Michelangelo (Carrara), Dante (Fosdinovo), and even the local shrine to Angelo Paoli. It was the beauty of the countryside, the helpfulness and friendliness of the local people. The man in the station must have been fed up with us – ‘You get the train to Lucca at 8.00 a.m.’ – ‘But it doesn’t go to Lucca’ – ‘Yes, it does’ – ‘But the timetable says it doesn’t’ – ‘Yes, it does.’ (He was right – but so were we).
I think you need to be from a Latin culture to fully appreciate the significance of the markets, although I understand it better than I used to. I enjoy now seeing, buying, and especially consuming the local produce, but I could never become excited like my wife (who is Spanish) at seeing a stall of dead fish, for example. But we did like the local markets in Fivizzano and Castelnuovo, especially the former.
Unfortunately, it was time to come home when we had become accustomed to the locality, but we still maintain our happy memories.
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