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Castelnuovo di Garfagnana

Castelnuovo, main town and heart of Garfagnana, is situated at the confluence of the Serchio river with Turrite Secca. It is the administrative and commercial centre of the valley where every thursday, since 1430, a traditional open market of merchandise takes place. The most ancient historical documents about Castelnuovo date back to the year 740, formerly in the XIV century it became a very important transit centre.

The building of the bridge, dates back to this period, wanted by Castruccio Castracani, to connect the castle with Cellabarotti's district known today as Ponte Santa Lucia (S. Lucia's bridge). In 1430 weary of continuous battles and an uncertain future the inhabitants set themselves free from the Lucca yoke submitting voluntary to the Estensi gaining this way remarkable privileges and reaching the maximum development.

It became vicarship and capital of the province until the unity of Italy except for a brief period of Franco-Napoleonic rule between 1700 and 1800. Among the variuos Este's governors the foremost are Ludovico Ariosto (1522-1525) and Fulvio Testi (1640-1642). The original structures of the Castle (XII century) underwent enlargements and rehandling; the construction of the terrace which overlooks the main square is of the year 1675.

Another monument of remarkable interest is the cathedral entitled to S. Pietro and S. Paolo; it arose in the year 1500 over the ruins of a pre-existent Romanesque church of the XI century. In the interior an alter piece in terracotta of Della Robbia school "Pala di San Giuseppe", at the base of which you can notice the coat of arms of the community of Castelnuovo: a blue rampant lion on a yellow field, the XIV century wooden crucifix, the marble frame ascribed to the Lucchese school of Matteo Civitali.

The ancient Fortress of Monte Alfonso, built under the command of Duke Alfonso II d'Este, rises on a hill overlooking the town of Castelnuovo; the project was entrusted to the architect Marco Antonio Pasi, who began the construction works in 1579 and finished them in 1585. Today the fortress is once again of public property, and it has been ordained as a recreational and cultural area, seat of the Apuan Alps Park for the slope of Garfagnana valley.

The Monastery of S. Joseph was built in 1639 under the command of Duke Alfonso III d'Este and rises on the "cappuccini" hill where he became a Franciscan friar by the name of Father Giambattista.

Alfieri Teather, built in 1860 by a group of notable people, recently restored and now open to the public, offers a rich playbill all year around.

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