'The pearl lost in the mountains' is how Giosuè Carducci described Fivizzano, once nicknamed 'a corner of Florence' for the fact that it flourished in the Renaissance. The central piazza Medicea is beautiful, and here we find the parish church dedicated to Saints Jacopo and Antonio, originally facing in the opposite direction but rebuilt in the 16th century so as to look onto the piazza. The square also contains palazzo Cojari and palazzo Gargiolli, home to the 16th-century Accademia degli Imperfetti, where the humanist tradition had a new lease of life.
At the centre of the piazza stands the luminous fountain erected in 1683 by order of Cosimo III de' Medici. All Lunigiana is represented in this monumental sculpture, which loses nothing in comparison with those of Florence and Rome: marble dolphins and pietra serena in the decorative and supporting structures, protected at the base by a thin wrought-iron railing.
Fivizzano was one of the first towns in the world to have a printing press with moveable characters of the kind invented by Johannes Gutenberg. Here, between 1471 and 1475, a certain Jacopo da Fivizzano used the first moveable Italian type to print works of Juvenal, Virgil, Cicero and Sallust, and, astonishingly, he did it before many of the capitals and great cities of Europe. Thus it was that from the rocky folds of east Lunigiana came, incredibly, some of the first printed books. The Jacopo da Fivizzano Print Museum in the Palazzo Fantoni Bononi is, unfortunately, closed after the 2013 earthquake. The oratory of San Carlo is not far away, in the precincts of the Sarzanese gate. It was designed and built with the aim of constructing a work of art to beautify the place that the Grand Duchy of Tuscany considered a 'little Firenze'.
The ideal destination along the road that connects Lunigiana with the Garfagnana is the Passo Tea (950 metres), where you find the Hospice of San Nicolao, a silent witness to the flocks of pilgrims and travellers who have crossed these parts for centuries.