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A Wine Festival for the Emperor in Montecarlo di Lucca

The village we are about to discuss is 161 metres above sea level, in the province of Lucca, boasts a series of vineyards that make it famous for the quality of its wine and has imperial origins.


It was the year 1369 when Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg, who had also been elected Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1355, stopped in Lucca to settle some of the many issues that Italy was facing. He freed the city from the dominion of Pisa and with it a series of villages in the vicinity of Lucca, including our village, which, to pay him homage today, decided to call itself Mons-Charoli, Montagna di Carlo (Charles’ Mountain), and in time therefore Montecarlo.

The Fortress of Montecarlo, one of the places to visit, which stands on the Cerruglio hill from which it takes its name, was built in the 12th century on the highest point of the hill on which the village stands, in a strategic position between Lucca and Valdinievole, which made it desirable for the most powerful cities of Tuscany: Florence, Pisa and Lucca. For this reason, Montecarlo has been the site of numerous battles and the structure of the fortification has undergone many changes over time. The Rocca is composed of the keep, a semicircular stone tower, and two twin square towers connected by high walls, forming an imposing triangular structure.

Along the walls, three of the fifteen original gates to the historic centre can still be admired: the Porta Fiorentina – the main gate from which the road to Florence starts, the Porticciola towards Lucca and the Porta Nuova, to the south. Inside the historic centre, the Collegiate Church of Sant’Andrea, which dates back to the first half of the 14th century and was completely renovated in the 18th century, is worth a visit.

In the heart of the centre, it is worth visiting the small and delightful Teatro dei Rassicurati, which was also frequented by the maestro Giacomo Puccini. At the foot of the Cerruglio hill stands the Pieve di San Piero, also known as In campo. It is one of the oldest churches in Tuscany, dating back to the beginning of Christianity.

There are two appointments not to be missed in Montecarlo: the Wine Festival held at the end of August when wineries and osterias offer traditional Tuscan dishes and wines. In autumn there is the Festival of Autumn Flavours, where you can taste the new wine, new oil and chestnuts.

by Eduardo Lubrano