Aulla to Sarzana, 22.28km (Paul)
Paul walked alone today as Lois decided to rest her hip, going instead by taxi with the bags to Sarzana.
The Cicerone Guide says that todays route is short, but not easy. In Paul’s view, it was neither short, nor easy. At times, the terrain brought to mind a certain volcano in Nicaragua which Lois and Maritia will remember very well! The initial steep, rocky and wet climb was through evergreen forests in the Apuan Alps, eventually emerging just below the hilltop village of Bibola, with its 7thC castle. By that time, the rain had begun and it continued into the afternoon. After the next village, the path took another steep incline to the top of the next hill. Paul was passed by mountain bikers a couple of times on the way down to the village of Ponzano Superiore. This village was apparently well known as a centre for Italian partisans (anti-fascists) in WWII. Further on, after olive groves and more rocky paths, the ruins of the Castle of Brina come into view. These fortifications date from the 5th to 4thC BC, but were intentionally destroyed in the Peace of Castelnuovo in 1306. This was a settlement between the Malaspina family and the Count-Bishops of Luni, negotiated with the assistance of the poet, Dante. One of the towers remains on its side.
Eventually, the trail dropped down through vineyards to the valley floor and continued to Sarzana alongside a canal.