Castellaro of Zignago
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Comune di Zignago: piazza IV Novembre, 1 - 19020 Zignago (SP)
Telefono: 0187 86 50 75
Fax: 0187 86 52 67
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Zignago, a small town between hills and mountains that overlooks the green and uncontaminated Val di Vara, is on the Apennine ridge between Liguria and Toscana, embedded between the Lunigiana mountains, in the centre of a territory rich in history and full of proof, where all the traces of the populations who lived in Liguria have been kept in a narrow range.

From the worship places of the ancient Ligurians who populated the territory before the Roman domination, to the forts and the Byzantine trails, and to the traces of medieval villages; evidence of the everyday life of common people, a concentration of history and beliefs on mountains which, just a few kilometres from the sea, climb inland.

Zignago is therefore a municipality where History left very important traces, and visiting it gives an overall picture of the events that marked Liguria over the centuries: from the most ancient populations, proud opponents of Rome, to the Latin and later Byzantine domination, until the Lombard and then the Genoese Middle Ages.

With the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of the ROP ERDF 2007-2013) the aim is to develop the sites of Castellaro and Monte Dragnone, two of the most important in the whole system of Zignago.

A little bit of history

During the Bronze Age five families moved their animals from the lowest villages to the pastures of Castellaro, and for this reason they built homes. The huts were built on the slope, on the terracing made with dry-stone walls, which are the most ancient in Liguria.

Storms, which were frequent around the two peaks, were seen as a sign of the presence of supernatural powers, like Mount Olympus for Greece: during the 10th century BC, a hut consecrated to the Dea Madre (Goddess Mother) was built on the peak of Castellaro, and offers were made in the years when there was little rain. In the 4th century BC, on the contrary, the Ligurian Apuans did rituals with libations on the peak of Monte Dragnone, where the Marian Sanctuary was then built, nowadays still object of pilgrimage.

The Byzantines built a castle on Castellaro with a tower and double castle walls (the only one highlighted in La Spezia and Genoa provinces) to check for a possible arrival of Lombard troops, tracing a path that is still visible. In the 12th century Vezzano lords instead built a tower which made it possible to communicate with Vezzano castle.

The exploitation of steatite from Monte Dragnone began in the Copper Age and went on until the Twentieth century, passing through the mine from where the stone was extracted to produce ornaments and talcum.

The intervention

The archaeological area and access paths will be renovated. The ancient terracing and the bases of the Cooper Age huts used by the inhabitants during the breeding activity will be cleaned and reinforced, and the ruins of the Byzantine castle and the access path traced by the army of the Eastern Roman Empire, but also of the tower of the lords of Vezzano will be repaired.

In addition to this the reconstruction of a Copper Age hut will be built, using the same materials as those used in the original period: poles, twisted branches and stuccoed with clay, external floor and fireplace of stone and clay, in order to make the reality of the life of the period visible.

Illustrative panels that explain the history and the nature of the territories will be produced, and will be made visible from Castellaro, the rain rituals which took place on the two peaks and the operation of the dwelling.

In addition, multi-purpose station will be created and outfitted inside the existing permanent archaeological exhibition in order to connect online with other sites of historical archaeological interest in the territory of Spezia Province.

Nearby

Near Zignago, straddled between Tuscany and Liguria, is the ancient Roman colony of Luni that gives its name to the whole territory of Lunigiana and which is currently part of the Municipality of Ortonovo.
It is one of the most important and interesting national archaeological sites. Created by the Romans in 177 BC during the military campaign which led to the conquest of Liguria, it became an important port.

Pillaged and destroyed several times by the Lombards, Saracens and Vikings, it fell into ruin during the Middle Ages. The magnificent amphitheatre that can hold up to seven thousands spectators, the Forum, some ancient temples and an early Christian basilica can still be seen today, in addition to several commercial buildings and private residences, full of beautiful mosaics and frescoes, but also richly decorated public buildings, all element that testify how rich and magnificent Luni was.

Oddities

On the highest, wildest and most spectacular ridges of the Ligurian Apennine, straddling the border with Piedmont and Tuscany. The Alta Via dei Monti Liguri (a high-level trail) winds among these peaks and valleys, and which touches Zignago and its neighbours in the most eastern area of the region.

One of the stopping places in the area is the mountain pass of Rastrello, and there are many trails that connect with the main Alta Via, rising up from hamlets like Sasseta and Valgiuncata, crossing pastures and chestnut and beech woods, where the very various and panoramic trails twist and turn for mountain biking and trekking.

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