History of Versilia

History of Versilia and surroundings.

It is now certain that the first human settlements occurred during the Pliocene.
(View the Italian language page of prehistoric caves in Versilia, Tana della Volpe, la Buca della Gigia).
The advanced Etruscan civilization later occupied this area and thanks to its development, the working metal developed.
After the 4 B.C., the Apuan Ligures moved toward the sea since the invasion of Celtic tribes began.
In 193 B.C., the conflict between Apuan Ligures and Etruscans began and ended in 180 B.C., when the Roman consuls Marco Bebio and Publio Cornelio, thanks to the help of four Roman legions, forced the Ligures to abandon their area.
In the first century B.C., the recovery of the coastal area and the construction of public works started. Not far, next to the lake, some Roman villae were constructed. These facilities were linked by Via Aurelia, built in 109 (only the road section Pisa- River Magra).

In the first and second century A.D, quality of life improved thanks to the exploitation of iron and lead mines. In the same period, some marble quarries were born.

After the 5 century, the archbishop of Lucca S.Frediano, destroyed paganism. The first Church was built and it is now known as “Pieve” (from the Latin “plebs”); it was firstly dedicated to S- Giovanni Battista and some other martyrs. It was the same for the Church S. Giovanni and S. Felicita in Valdicastello.

Progressively, other Early Christian churches were built: S. Giovanni and S. Stefano of Vallecchia, of S. Stefano in Camaiore, of S. Ambrogio and S. Pantaleone of Elici and of S. Lorenzo in Massaciuccoli.
In 560 and 570, Byzantines created two new churches: S.Apollinaire on Monte Quiesa( “giesa” means “Chiesa”, church, in the dialect) and another one, which was born next to Porta Beltrame, was demolished by Napoléon Bonaparte in order to enlarge the road.
After the year 1000, the Roman occupation started to crush and the situation got even worse when Lombardic population occupied the territory of Lucca until Versilia River. They took possess of the roman lands and organised them in “Masse”; in the centre there was the “Sala” (villa or farm), then transformed into fortified castles.
“Massa Grausi” (now Massarosa), “Massa Cuccoli” (now Massarosa), “Sala Versiliae” (now Rocca of Pietrasanta) “Sala Vetza” (now Seravezza) were born in this way.
Between 1219 and 1226, Lucca took advantage of the conflict in Pisa to fortify Rotaio Castle. On the other side, Pisa sent some soldiers in Camaiore to fortify Montebello.

The history of Viareggio has a different course, since that before, the area that it occupies now, was invaded by unhealthy swamps.

@ Pier Luca Mori 2024

Camaiore, Lucca (Italy)