Castelnuovo is the chief town and the green heart of the Garfagnana region, the southern and hilly part of the valley of the river Serchio, enclosed by the Alpi Apuane and the Apennines. It lies about 40 kilometers due norh of Lucca and Versilia. The first historical testimonies about Castelnuovo date from about 740 AD, in 1430 Castelnuovo became the small region’s capital city: in the Rocca dominating the historical centre lived the Governors sent from the House Este, among them the poets Ludovico Ariosto and Fulvio Testi. Also of great interest is the Cathedral, dedicates to the Saints Peter and Paul, with a splendid terracotta by Della Robbia, the “Saint Joseph altar-piece”. A remarkable fortress too overlooks the town from the hill, the Fortezza di Mont’Alfonso, and there is a fine monastery, the Convento di San Giuseppe. Around Castelnuovo lie many picturesque Hamlets and little villages, with beautiful views and pathways leading through the countryside to thick groves. You are right in the middle of uncontaminated nature here, and you can also discover the history of a people, with its rhythms and traditions typical of rural civilization. The architecture its typical too.
From Castelnuovo it is easy to reach the most interesting touristic resorts of the Val di Serchio, with many trekking itineraries and trails suited for walking, mountain biking or riding. In a few minutes, one reaches the enchanting “borgo” of Isola Santa, an ancient village of small houses surrounding the church on the shore of a fabulous little lake, a jewel set among the rocks and ravines of the Alpi Apuane that leaves every visitor literally breathless.