Born and raised in Lunigiana, Francesco Bola has always been passionate about the area’s art, history, folklore, sport and outdoor life. He has turned his passions into a fulltime job, introducing travellers to new places, many of them hidden from the eye of the casual tourist. These fortunate clients are introduced not only to the physical space but to the tales associated with them, information not easy to glean from the usual tour guides. Last Spring, Francesco introduced my tour group to the ancient Roman city of Luni.  He invested the dry historical facts with a wealth of detail which helped to bring to life this ancient port city which had thrived during the days of the Roman empire until the sea started to recede and left it stranded 2 miles inland. The site at Luni has only been “rediscovered” relatively recently, but there has still been time to erect a museum to house the many Roman artefacts found on site. The jewel in its crown, the amphitheare remains outside, of course, as does the layout of the market place, temple and civic buildings. Original floor mosaics are starting to come to light, showing artistic depictions of fish and other wildlife, all of which Francesco is able to interpret, explaining the significance of the various symbols used in these intricate designs. It was well worth spending half a day there, and there is still more to see.

Over lunch Francesco displayed his knowledge of Lunigiana’s more recent history, discussing the journey  of England’s Sigeric, archbishop of Canterbury at the end of 10th century, who in 900AD, travelled to Rome along what is and was then known as the Via Francigena, the route from London to Rome, passing through France. Sigeric would almost certainly have crossed the Apennines, crossing into Lunigiana via the Passo della Cisa, and then down to Pontremoli, on his way to Aulla. But that is another story, one which you will find elsewhere in this Blog.

For more information on Francesco, Luni, the via Francigena or any aspect of holidaying in Tuscany’s Lunigiana region please contact us at