Fivizzano’s enchanting folkloric nature comes alive in the summer, when the town holds a spectacular medieval tournament.
The annual event takes place in July and dates back to 1571, when Piazza Medicea was the site of a unique challenge between archers from the Terra neighbourhood and those from the neighbourhoods of Guardia, Verrucola, Fittadisio and Montechiaro, beyond the town’s walls.
Since 1971, this historic tradition has been re-enacted every July, under the name Disfida fra gli Arcieri di Terra e Corte.
The five archers of each team duel with extreme precision, aiming to hit targets 30 metres away with traditional wooden bows.
Against the backdrop of the flag-draped town, hundreds of locals in 16th-century costume also participate in an elaborate parade, accompanied by flag-throwers, musicians and knights.
The event is just one attraction that draws tourists to Fivizzano.
Thanks to its unique characteristics, the town has been given many monikers over the centuries: “Celebrated land”, “the town with beautiful windows”, “beautiful corner of Florence” and “Athens of the Lunigiana” are just a few.
Fivizzano was founded and developed thanks to its role as a crucial rest stop for travellers before they took on the mountain crossing that divides the ancient Via Nuova Clodia road between Lucca and Parma.
In the Middle Ages, Fivizzano was home to the Verrucola Castle, expanded in the first half of the 14th century by Spinetta Malaspina “the Great”.
Today, the castle is home to sculptor Pietro Cascella.
In the town’s splendid historic centre, visitors can see the defence walls built by Cosimo de’ Medici in 1540, as well as the Palace and tomb of the Arcadian Labindo and the beautiful Baroque fountain from 1683, commissioned by Cosimo III.
The large Piazza Medicea is not only home to the Disfida fra gli Arcieri di Terra e Corte, but still the centre of everyday life in Fivizzano today, with the church that was restored after it was severely damaged by an earthquake that devastated the town in 1920.
The surrounding area is also worth exploring, with its stunning scenery, abundance of medieval castles, delicious food and wine, friendly locals and age-old traditions.
A visit to the Parish Church of San Paolo di Vendaso is a must, as is one to the village of Soliera, home to the sanctuary of the Madonna dei Colli, and the charming hamlets of Gragnola, Vinca (high up in the Apuans and with unparalleled bread) and Ceserano (known for the farm and vineyards belonging to Conte Picedi Benettini).
Another attraction is Equi Terme, a renowned thermal resort with stunning grottos.
For centuries rainwater has been collected by the majesty of the mountains there, filtered into the subsoil, enriched with mineral salts that are beneficial to our health and then put back on the surface where they are collected and used not far a short distance from the medieval village.
Fivizzano is the ideal destination for nature lovers as most of the area is located inside the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park and the Apuan Alps Park.
For those who like parks, the Botanical Gardens in Frignoli could be of interest, as would a visit to the mountain village of Sassalbo (the headquarters of the National Park).
Rich in history, culture and natural beauty, Fivizzano is a gem awaiting your discovery.