Aug 26

My journey today was set with a northerly pointing of the compass, up the Serchio river valley, and beyond, to Aulla. Fair weather prevailed (what else in Tuscany in the summer?), so I strolled on down to the Ghivizzano train station to hop aboard the Regional TRENO line.

The trains have been more or less on time throughout my travels here. Although aged,  the trains are pretty well cared for in this train line.

 I got on the train at 9:05 a.m, the appointed hour.  I sat down, and we chugged along; good-bye Ghivizzano, so-long Fornaci, passing Barga.. Once we reached Castelnuovo, I could tell the grade increased significantly; could the little engine? Yes, it could, and did. We made it up the long grade, past many stops.

Actually, the ride offered quite spectacular viewing, as we went beyond Barga and Castelnouvo di Garfagnana. That is, of course, when we were not in a tunnel, and there were plenty. At one point I thought we were going to exit the tunnel at Paris. But no, it was just Piazza al Serchio. I could not see much from the train station, but there were several people coming and going, and I think it would be a nice stopover to explore.

We continued, still climbing the grade, but I could tell we were in the higher altitudes now, and had a great view of the surrounding mountains. One last tunnel, and there we were at the Aulla train station. The station was very new and on the outskirts of town. So I had to determine in which direction to go (for unknown to me, the Aulla Centro was behind a hill, and unseen). They do offer bus service from the station to the town, but one nice woman kindly directed me to a walkway, which I took.

The town is quite like Fornaci, in size (maybe a bit larger), with an active commercial base, and a lot of traffic. However, as my earlier reading on the net indicated, the town has been largely (re)built since WWII. There is no quaint old town center. The only historic structure is the old fortress sitting on top of a hill, overlooking the town. The fort is nice, and worth looking at; there is also a very nice park and arboretum surrounding the fort, in which I spent a fair bit of time lunching and napping. The town is set in a very nice environmental terrain. It is an intermountain confluence of two rivers, which is why it was significant enough for a fort to be placed there (and subsequently bombed to oblivion in the war). Beautiful hills and scenery. And as I was standing up at the fort, overlooking the town, I enjoyed the wonderful steady breeze coming from the west, through the valley. Of course, that is the direction of La Spezia, and the ocean. Imagine the beauty of the setting with a steady ocean breeze. Nice.

My recommendation regarding Aulla: on a stop over, I would take the time to see the fort and park.

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