A short itinerary through the vineyards of the Colli di Luni DOC wine, by foot, on horseback or by cyling
In the village of Castelnuovo Magra, with its profile marked by the tower of the Bishops Palace and the bell tower of the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena (where a Crucifixion of Peter Brueghel the Younger can be admired) you simply must visit the Enoteca pubblica (Public wine shop) of Liguria region and the Lunigiana territory. From the village centre, which has been awarded the orange flag of the Touring Club of Italy, one enters the trail in the direction of Vallecchia: a short stretch in the plain, marked off by stone pines, right after leaving the town walls, then starts the descent.
Between a panorama of the river Magra, a view of the sandy coast, which from the Liguria region passes on the Toscana, and the path that delicately crosses vineyards, laid out on the high grounds, one reaches the small village of Vallecchia, after a spontaneous wood of cypresses, a phenomenon that is unique in Liguria. From here on you will momentarily leave the previous track and go toward Marciano. At the end of the descent you will visit the small rural village, one of the oldest in this area; its inhabitants show a distinct artistic sense with the sculptures made of river stones all along the only road, but don’t forget to take a short detour to the suggestive “valle dei mulini” (valley of the mills) of the Bettigna stream. Between the beeches and oaks the torrent forms small cascades, which in the past supplied the power necessary for the crushing of the olives and the grinding of chestnuts and wheat.
By crossing the street, which passes through several vineyards of recent creation, we enter a mule track that leads us to an area of recent excavations, that have brought to light a rural villa of Roman times and a necropolis. Returning on the carriage road the gracious and solitary Church of S. Rosa, built in the XVII century, greats us. From here on again on a mule track we reach the Colline del sole (Sunny Hills), thus entering in the area of the Sarticola, where the predominant cultivation is vines: from here comes the major part of the production of the DOC wines “Colli di Luni”. Beyond the gentle hill we see Ortonovo, the destination of our trek, the village Nicola and other impressive vineyards.
We begin our descent on a new path and, after reaching Casano, cross over the torrent Parmignola and head towards Ortonovo, following the paved provincial road for a short track. After one kilometre we will notice a fountain on our left: there starts the trail which will lead us to Ortonovo. It´s name derives from Hortus Novus and goes back to the first cultivations of the hills. The site was indeed known as a holiday residence for the rich families of the near Luni even before the year thousand; here they found healthy air, contrary to the plain of Luni, where the swampiness periodically caused malaria epidemics.