Castiglione, a Fortified Village in the Apuan Alps. 

 

The Devil's Bridge was the only remaining bridge over the Serchio River during World War II.  

This ancient bridge supported Allied jeeps, which used it to cross the river.

 
Leonardo spent his preschool years growing up in Castiglione, a picturesque fortified village at the top of a hill in the Apuan Alps.  When he was five years old, the German Army took over that part of northern Italy and occupied the village.  For two years, the German and Allied armies held ground on each side of the Serchio River, fighting a desperate war of attrition.  Leonardo says that the problem of living under German occupation was not that the Germans  were particularly violent towards civilians, but that living among the German Army made them targets of daily Allied bombing.  He remembers walking with his mother toward home when a flight of bombers passed overhead.  Leonardo felt panicked, but his mother calmed him and said, "See the bombers are overhead.  They cannot hurt us because their bombs will fly forward after they are released and hit far ahead."  Leanardo said that for many years he had nightmares of trying to run from approaching bombs, but feeling rooted in place and unable to make progress.

We spent our last day in Tuscany traveling the picturesque route into the Apuan Alps and visiting Leonardo's childhood home.  We visited Leonardo's aunt, his niece and her husband who still live in stunning settings within the walls of the village.  I found it pleasing to see people living in much the same way that it has been done for generations.

We are deeply grateful to Leonardo and Ercilia for giving us such a wonderful introduction to Tuscany.  We could never have learned to appreciate the place, the people, the art and the wonderful food without their enthusiastic participation.  Many thanks.

The approach to the walled village of Castigleone (Castle Lion).

A view within the village.  "La Rocca," the tower in the background

was a secure residence and lookout for the German Army in WWII.

Leonardo looks down at his childhood home.

 

Restored townhomes built into the wall of the village give sweeping views of the Apuan Alps.  

Farms outside the village wall.  One can see the face of the "Princess Mountain" in the background.

The End.

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