A few steps from the famous village of Collodi, where Pinocchio still enchants and charms the young and the old with its lies, stands a mountain area, better known as Swiss Pescia (for the name of the town located at its feet, Pescia). It is an area that can be defined between hilly and mountainous, of which the so-called 10 Castella are part of , which are 10 villages all built with serene stone that made their fortune during the Medieval period. A single green valley extends under the unbelieving eyes of those who admire a landscape that, for its colors, its vegetation and breathtaking views, recalls the alpine views a few kilometers on the north. These castles represent not only a glimpse of Tuscan nature, but also a cultural portraits of what was the life of the past, where ancient crafts and traditions survive the modern technology and the frenzy of today's life, where the knowledge of the past has not been lost. To reach this region it is necessary to head towards the Mammianese north, direction Pietrabuona-Abetone, until you see on your right beyond the river the Romanesque church of S. Lorenzo a Cerreto. Later after about 2 km we will welcome the natural gate of 'Svizzera Pesciatina', the village of Pietrabuona. Located on a hill in a strategic position, in the Middle Ages the village was a place of bloody battles between Florentines and Pisa. In the lower part you can visit the Paper Documentation Centre and follow the ancient paper mill 'Le Carte' seat of the paper museum, which collects the testimonies of a centuries-old and prestigious activity. The church is dedicated to Saints Matthew and Columban and preserves on the inside two very ancient wooden statues. In the area behind the modern architecture is located the ancient church inside the castle. By entering the road of the Val di Torbola and then turning to the left you reach the village of Medicina. The castle is known for the ancient church dedicated to the S.S. Sixtus and Martin. Built in the fifteenth century it crowns the high wooded hill on top of which tthere is the village, on which stands the bell tower of the church, and it is supposed to be an ancient watchtower. Returning to the Val di Torbola road you will then reach the village of Fibbialla of Valleriana. The entrance is marked by the rectory of S. Michele, around which the town is articulated. On the inside there are some sixteenth-eighteenth-century canvases of a certain interest and a fifteenth-century sculpture depicting the Virgin Annunziata. After Fibbialla we find the castle of Aramo. It rises on a peak overlooking the valley below Torbola; the village has been repeatedly the scene of harsh disputes around the XVI century, looted and largely destroyed. On the highest point of the town we find the church of S. Frediano. Resuming the itinerary soon you arrive at S. Quirico. It is one of the most beautiful castles in Valleriana. Located on the eastern slope of Mount Battifolle, it is a village that offers views of all the valleys. In the center we find picturesque alleys that cross and pass under the houses through small tunnels or near enchanting pergolas or canopies. On the highest part of the village there is a beautiful square furnished by a stone fountain with a quadrangular bath. On a lower position there is the church dedicated to SS. Quirico and Judith. The 'Museo della Civiltà Contadina', built inside the Holiday House 'Il Frantoio' is an interesting museum and can be visited by reservation. Going down from S. Quirico, after a few kilometers you can see the most famous work of art in this area: the parish church of S.S. Tommaso and Ansano of Valeriana, declared a national monument in 1875. A mystery envelops this parish church that seems to testify with its architectural solemnity the continuation of ancient history. Documented since the ninth century, unfortunately it preserves only a few finds of the ancient structure. Rebuilt several times, today it has a pleasant stylistic form reminiscent of Lombard religious architecture of the twelfth century. In the center of the village of Castelvecchio there is the Oratory of SS. Rosary, entirely decorated by the Stories of the Virgin and Christ, which it is a good Florentine fresco by an unknown artist, dating back to around the sixteenth century; reachable by a small mule track it is placed under the parish church of St. John the Baptist, where the Holy Mass is currently officiated and inside which, structured with three small naves, there is the worth mentioning altar in polychrome stucco where the tabernacle is located, finely decorated with gold leaf. Behind the altar there is an altarpiece, coming from the parish church, depicting Saints John and Thomas at the foot of the Madonna and Child on the throne dated around the sixteenth century. On the right side there is the wooden crucifix with Suffering Christ of the seventeenth century and the baptismal font carved in stone serene. The medieval village maintains its primitive structure made of suggestive castle streets that climb up to the Church of S. Ansano. Returning to the main road the path continues to the village of Stiappa. Located on the slopes of Mount Battifolle, at 627 meters above sea level, the ancient town has marked for centuries the border between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Lucca. The church of S. Maria Assunta rises in an elevated position. Ecclesiastical architecture denounces a strong reference to Romanesque art. From Stiappa you can go down to the Mulino del Fontanone, for a trekking route called the 'Via del mulini'. The itinerary continues to Pontito, a truly magical place. The castle (749 meters above sea level) known since the ninth century as possession of the bishops of Lucca, rises near the source of the river Pescia. The village has preserved intact the fortified structure; inside the village is articulated according to a particular pyramidal trend at the top of which stands the Church of SS. Andrea and Lucia, sturdy stone construction of Romanesque origin. A walk inside this village, whose shape resembles an inverted fan, lying on the soft unspoiled nature, will reveal to the eye of the most attentive visitor artistic signs of remarkable level that once expressed the dignity of the place. Going back towards the main road you can reach the village of Sorana by crossing the river. The ancient village, nestled on the slopes of Mount Petritulo, takes its name from the fortress, of which today only some remains are still there and which was once called 'sovereign' for its position in dominion of the valley. The particular elliptical plan of the village culminates in the square where the Church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul is located. Famous for the production of Bean of Sorana PGI, a particular type of bean with a delicate taste, Sorana is today a destination for gourmets hunting for delicacies. In August, the famous and traditional 'Bean Party'. Taking up the main road that leads back to the Via Mammianese, you can see some plants used for the production of paper that once were truly the glory of local entrepreneurship. The most famous paper mill is Magnani. The company, which boasts ancient origins, until a few years ago produced fine paper, handmade for high quality editions and paper money for the Italian mint. Then resumed the Via Mammianese, after a series of hairpin bends Vellano appears, unique in its urban severity. Recognized capital of Swiss Pescia and once a renowned holiday resort, the village - ancient Avellanum - rises in a panoramic position on the valley of the river Pescia. Known for its parish church since the tenth century it was once a fief of the Garzoni family, in 1336 Coluccio Salutati drafted those statutes which for a long time sanctioned its administrative characteristics. In the part below the castle, outside the walls there is the parish church of SS. Sixtus and Martin, who was once annexed to an ancient Benedictine abbey.
In Vellano only the serene stone quarry remained in operation in the province of Pistoia. Today 'Cava Nardini' we continue to extract the precious material for over 100 years and to produce every type of artifact, according to traditional processes: from simple building material, to furniture and even sculptures, considered real works of art. We recommend a visit to the Ethnographic Historical Museum of Miner and Quarryman which exhibits work tools and a rich collection of minerals.