Ponzano Superiore: a mediaeval village amid artistic treasures and panoramas
If you have a passion for medieval villages far from time, the place you should visit is Ponzano Superiore, a magical place with old-world charm along the Via Francigena, which unfolds in a maze of cobbled streets and, thanks to its strategic position, dominates the area from Meloria to the Gulf of La Spezia.
Ready to join us on our 1-day itinerary of artistic treasures and local beauty?
Along the ancient Via Francigena, but without haste
We should take example from the pilgrims who, on their way down from the Alpine passes and on their way to Rome and the Holy Land, lingered here in Ponzano Superiore: even today, the best way to enjoy this centre of the Via Francigena is not to be in a hurry.
Take a look at the landscape and breathe deeply: you are in the beautiful Val di Magra, near Santo Stefano di Magra, in Lunigiana, a land that holds religious works of art of great value.
The Parish Church of San Michele and its 5 altars
One of the symbols of Ponzano Superiore is the Pieve di San Michele Arcangelo, an important place of Catholic worship in which there are no fewer than five altars and several paintings on canvas that have not yet been attributed. The church was repeatedly enriched with details between the 16th and 17th centuries and today has a Baroque and Rococo style.
Also worth your time is Palazzo Remedi, whose splendid building, probably dating back to the 17th century, displays interesting sculptural reliefs. Pay attention to the remarkable coats of arms on the walls of the village that testify to the passage of different dominations over the centuries.
The castle that is not there
A quirk you won't find in the guidebooks: a castle once stood proudly here, of which no trace remains today. During the tour you will also encounter the Immaculate Conception Column, similar to the one on the Spanish Steps in Rome, and you can take a break or end the tour on the city's Belvedere.
Ponzano as Caius Pontius
Ponzano Superiore is a curious name, but what is it related to and how has it been maintained over the centuries? Its toponym is of Roman origin, probably referring to the consul Caius Pontius Ligo. Little is known of its history before 986; it was certainly the possession of the bishops of Luni, then passed to the Malaspina and in the 16th century to the Banco di San Giorgio.
A priceless view
Like a small jewel set on a hillock some 303 metres above sea level, Ponzano Superiore allows the eye to literally lose itself in the horizon. No archaeological digging has been carried out, but it appears to preserve the remains of a settlement in ancient and early medieval times. It was once inhabited by Ligurian peoples, such as the Apuanians who had founded the town of Luni.
Once upon a time there was a manor
Around the year 1000, Ponzano passed to the Este family, becoming a "castrum" with a fortress surrounded by walls, in which a gate with a drawbridge opened. Those who passed it found a chapel and a keep, while just below the castle there was a small inhabited village. Please don't think of it as a romantic place, though: due to its location, it had above all strategic and military significance.