The Village and Surroundings

‘Vergemoli’ by Christopher Smith

VERGEMOLI is in the mountainous Garfagnana, a part of North-west Tuscany less well-known than the classic undulating hills of southern Tuscany. You won’t find many tourists here, except for Italians, many of whom are returning home to the village in the summer. There is an active local community, several summer festivals, great restaurant (VIVI) and local food deli (La Bottega). It’s fully pedestrianized, except for deliveries.

VERGEMOLI has about 160 full-time inhabitants: it used to have 2000! It has a fascinating history too (lots of books in our house for you to read!). It is divided into Upper and Lower VERGEMOLI, each part with its own church. We are in the lower, older part dating back to the 17th century. There are a handful of other foreign-owned homes in the village, all families like ours who are regular visitors and who love the area. The one place locally where you may find tourists is nearby Grotta del Vento (Wind Cave), on the way to the village of Fornovolasco, famous in 2024 for being the location of the BBC TV series Amanda & Alan’s Italian Job. The gorgeous villages and scenery in that show give you an idea of our spectacular region. 

The Apuani Alps (Alpi Apuane) are the mountains that surround us, the Pania Secca being the mountain which dominates the view from the terrace; the other range you can see to the East, from the lower edge of the village, are the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines (Apennino Tosco-Emiliano). In a good year there’s great snow and skiing up there.

PLACES TO VISIT: Pisa (an hour’s drive), Viareggio or Livorno (the nearest seaside resorts, an hour away), Florence (1 ½ hours), Siena (2+ hours); Genoa, La Spezia, the Cinque Terre (all in Liguria), Milan and Bologna are all easy day trips. Those are just a few examples. There are many more.

Nearer home, Barga (25 minutes away: it has a summer jazz festival, great restaurants and lots of art shops), Lucca (one of the most unspoiled cities in Tuscany, 45 minutes’ drive, about the same by train), Torre del Lago (near Viareggio – hosts the famous annual Puccini Festival), and the many villages around the area – all worth a visit. There is a good picnic area by the river on the road up to Fabbriche di Vallico.

Vergemoli is part of the Regional Park (Parco Regionale delle Alpi Apuane), which is a wild-life reserve. There’s good bird-watching, especially in Spring and Autumn, and you’ll likely catch a glimpse of the many wild boar, mufflon (wild goat), badgers, foxes, deer and even lynx, that live in the forests. Because there’s little light pollution in the village, it’s a good place to watch for shooting stars and generally to study the night sky. The whole area is excellent walking country and you’ll find maps of the local area and signposted walks in the house. 

Strict planning regulations mean there is no swimming pool in the village, but there are three pools close by, in Gallicano, Barga and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana; and of course there is the Tuscan coast (Livorno, Viareggio…).