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Although we can assume the existence of a first fortification of the area by the Apuan Ligurians who resided there, it is however with the Roman conquest of Garfagnana (183 BC) that Ghivizzano is recognized as a “key place” due to its strategic location for the northern defence of Lucca.

Its name derives from clavis (key), which then evolved into Clavidianum and then Glavezzao, until it reached its present form. It was with the arrival of the Lombards that the first significant urban development of Ghivizzano took place. Between the end of the 10th century and the first half of the 14th century, it was first fief and jurisdiction of the Rolandinghi, then of the Castracani, who chose it as their family residence and centre of their military operations.

As for its defensive system, it was Castruccio Castracani of Antelminelli, lord of Lucca, who, at the beginning of the 14th century, had the castle restored and strengthened: these works proved to be fundamental for the protection of the village which, due to its natural position, was at the forefront in the following years in the disputes between Lucca on one side, and Pisa and Florence on the other.

With the spread of firearms in the 16th century and the consolidation of the rule of the Republic of Lucca along the Serchio Valley, it lost its military importance, becoming a place of peace and work. Ghivizzano is almond-shaped and it is separated into two parts by the road that crosses it from east to south: a higher part with the church and the fortress; and a lower part, with houses and two entrance gates, including the main one with Via Piastronata – which leads to the centre- and Via Sossala. The latter is certainly the most suggestive road of the medieval village. With its vaulted ceiling, it is illuminated only by the light that filters through the crenels; in several points the road opens up allowing you to admire arches, gates, brick windows, steep staircases and towers that have become terraces.

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