Madrignano Castle and Calice al Carnoviglio - PicsOnBike Day

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PicsonBike Day to Madrignano and Calice al Carnoviglio - Liguria

Hello Hivers!


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As promised today I will talk about the bicycle trip I made a few days ago, destination Calice al Carnoviglio. I created a hashtag for this type of travels, using the previous #picsonbike used for the photos taken during my rides: #picsonbikeday. I pedal, reach places of interest, stop, take photos, leave, and stop again, and so on until I get home.

Here is my adventure last week

Steps of the Route
Steps of the Route

First Steps

I left home mid-morning, checking the tire pressure, and lubricating the mechanisms of my bike with the last drops of specific ointment. Around 10 - 10.30 a.m., I left Marina di Massa, towards Liguria. I imprecated immediately after a few kilometers because the bottle-cage gave way and I was forced to put the bottle inside the bag that I had carried on my shoulder. I covered the first 35 kilometers in one breath: I reached Sarzana following the Via Aurelia; then Arcola, Bottagna, and Piana a Battolla. I reached the foot of the climb in just under an hour.

Madrignano Castle Locality
Madrignano Castle Locality

Castello di Madrignano

The climb that from the Madrignano plain climbs to the Castle is a medium difficulty climb, about 6 kilometers with some stretches of constant ascent at a 7-8% gradient. It never touches excessive slopes but the heat and the length make it tiring a lot. Arrived on the summit, the road continues towards Calice al Carnoviglio, but I decided to stop in the small town and refresh myself. A few mineral salts and little tart after seeing a few small groups walking towards the parking. I followed the narrow road surrounded by ancient palace houses built on a handful of floors, so as to reach the main square from which you access the church. Seeing it open, I thought the celebrations had just ended. Whilst sipping my salt-rich drink I saw that a pedestrian street to the left of the church gave access to a staircase in the direction of the castle. The name of the town takes its cue from the presence of the ancient fortification which unfortunately I have not visited but on which I have done some research at home. The castle dates back to many centuries ago, although its construction is still the subject of discussion. The Italian entry on Wikipedia mentions the first appearance of the name, Castrum Madrognani, dating back to 1164, in an official concession of the fortification; as early as 1206, it passed into the hands of perhaps the most famous lords of my area, the Malaspina. It remained under their rule until 1416, then returned there again from 1469 for about three centuries. From there it suffered many damages, first due to the clashes of secession, then those for the unification of Italy - when it became a prison - and then during the allied bombings. Until the 80s of the last century, it was not touched, then some recovery works often interrupted due to lack of funds.

Madrignano Castle and Church
Madrignano Castle and Church

Towards Calice

After the break, I went back towards Calice; the way is fairly narrow, steep, and winding, it descends towards the crossroads towards Usurana and the main road leading towards Calice. From there, about 250 meters in altitude to reach the village. Having seen it in the distance even in other seasons, I can say that the poverty of the bush in autumn and winter makes the landscape in which the village appears more captivating. In itself, Calice al Carnoviglio is a very fascinating place. Precisely for this reason, I wanted to enter inside, as far as possible. Of course, the first thing that stands out is its Castle, a structure that seems more suited to a palace than to a real castle.

A side of Calice Castle
A side of Calice Castle
Below the Castle
Below the Castle

Calice al Carnoviglio and its Castle

Also for Calice, I opened the web window and I turned to Wikipedia for some quick research. Calice is a municipality that exceeds a thousand inhabitants, grouping many places scattered around the Usurana Waterstream. Due to the continuous changes over the centuries, the Castle that stands out over the rest of the town resembles a palace, a note that I can personally confirm. The fortified parts used for defense are inconspicuous and many have been modified over time. Like the whole village, it was first owned by the Malaspina family, then by the Doria family, then again by the Malaspina family, and then adapted to numerous other changes of ownership. Indeed, it was owned by the Grand Duchy of Tuscany before definitively moving to the Ligurian region.

The Houses
The Houses
On the Bike
On the Bike

Many of the houses in the village are built as in the past, with large rough stones that I noticed to be very well kept.

In the Memory of the Second World War
In the Memory of the Second World War

Just below the castle of Calice, there is a green area where a monument is placed in the memory of the past during the Second World War. Calice is in fact considered one of the most important centers in the Val di Vara for the partisan struggles that took place from 1943 until the end of the conflict. Nearby, a fountain and a short uphill staircase that I approached. On its top, the Church of Nostra Signora di Loreto, built-in 1638 at the request of the Dorias. I didn't go so far as to visit the inside, but instead, I noticed a commemorative effigy of something I had never seen: a gold medal for public education. On the side of the steps leading to the church, in the shade of some branches of branches, lies the half-length portrait of Marianna Brunelli who was awarded this honor.

Church of Nostra Signora di Loreto
Church of Nostra Signora di Loreto
Marianna Brunelli, Gold Medal for Public Instruction
Marianna Brunelli, Gold Medal for Public Instruction
Church of Nostra Signora di Loreto
Church of Nostra Signora di Loreto

Finally, I discovered the name of the neighboring square, Piazza del Leone. An inscription that recites its name was created by inserting colored tiles of a different color into a tiled flooring similar to that in porphyry. The lion is a fundamental symbol, so much so that it has been added as an irreplaceable component within the official coat of arms of Calice al Carnoviglio.

Piazza del Leone
Piazza del Leone

I finished this trip to Liguria by getting back on my bike and returning to the house. I went down again to Novegina and I decided not to go back up to Madrignano staying at the bottom of the hill and walking along its perimeter. I took the road back to Bottagna, Romito, and Sarzana, arriving on the Via Aurelia and finally home.

Calice al Carnoviglio - Monochromes Version
Calice al Carnoviglio - Monochromes Version

The Bike-Ride

From the point of view of the itinerary: interesting route, about 90 kilometers in total, can be shortened to just over 80. Most flat or slightly undulating, with a couple of pedalable climbs. The first, the climb to Castello di Madrignano, measures according to my GPS about 6 kilometers, with an average gradient of 6.6% and 400 meters in altitude difference. Ascent training, I must say; alternates a few short stretches where you can breathe and the rest in steady ascent. Never impossible slopes, but it is difficult. Often in the sun, it is not the most suitable in the hottest hours. Once down to Calice, the ascent from Novegina to Calice al Carnoviglio, about 4 kilometers long, with an average gradient of 5.9% and an altitude difference of about 230 meters. The first section is very pedalable, it rears up more in the second half. Again there are no impossible slopes, certainly less demanding than the previous climb.


I hope I have intrigued you by teasing your curiosity. The itinerary is suitable for cyclists who are trained but not too much and who are equipped with racing bikes and who want to reach places that are not very crowded. The valley from which you go up to Calice remains fairly cool compared to the rest of the route, at least that was when I passed it.


A Greet to You and to the Next Ride!


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