La Versilia

- Toscana Viva

La Versilia

La VersiliaThe Versilia area is commonly considered as composed of a seaboard 20 km long and of a hinterland area including the municipalities of Camaiore, Massarossa, Viareggio, Pietrasanta, Forte dei Marmi, Seravezza and Stazzema. Only the last four, though, make part of its historical nucleus. It is famous for its seaside resorts, but it is also characterized by mountains that exceed one thousand metres of altitude and by the natural reserve of the Massaciuccoli lake.

In the Pliocene era, Versilia was already inhabited by populations of Ligurian ethnic origins who lived inside the natural caves in the mountains and along the coasts. They were primitive, tribal societies that neither worked iron nor farmed the land because they preferred living on hunting and fishing.
Later, the Etruscans introduced the use of metals. In the IV century B. C., Versilia was occupied by the Liguri Apuani populations who drove back the Etruscans towards the Arno River and transformed the area in a real stronghold to resist the Gauls' pressure from the north.
Between 198 and 193 B.C., another conflict set off because of the arrival of the Romans. Forty-thousand Liguri Apuani were obliged to leave their land and were deported into the Sannio territory to leave room to the Roman settlers. They came from Luni and Lucca and started huge reclamations in the area of the currently called Massaciuccoli Lake. They built numerous villas and finished some parts of the Etruscan-Ligurian way that was included in the Aurelia way, built in 109 B.C.
Moreover, it was thanks to the Romans that the local economy recovered in the first centuries of the common era by means of the exploitation of iron, lead and silver mines and of the marble quarries.
The first churches started to be risen at the dawn of Christianity by St. Frediano, bishop of Lucca, and by the Byzantines. Around the year 570, the area was occupied by the Longobards who started out the slow but sure decadence of the Roman influence on Versilia.
The Roman presence completely disappeared around the year 1000. During that period, the built-up nucleuses called "masse" started to appear and they later became castles. Among them there was "Massa Grausi", today Massarossa, "Massa Cuccoli" which became Massaciuccoli, "Sala Vezza" now called Serravezza and many others.
During the Middle Ages, the Cattani, descendants of the Lombards, dominated Versilia autonomously until 1198, when they offered their loyalty to Lucca.
In the XIII century, after the wars between Lucca and Pisa, other strongholds arose. The history of the area was marked by reclamations. The founding of Viareggio, where there previously was a swamp, took place after the reclamations of the area from the XII century on.
Other projects of the kind, which Forte dei Marmi mainly benefited from, were carried out by the Lorrains and after the Unification of Italy around the Massaciuccoli Lake, too.
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