The castle of Lusuolo – yet another among the one hundred castles still existing in this land – collects and documents one of the defining features of Lunigiana and Tuscany: the impetuous emigration that relocated entire villages from the Apennine region elsewhere in Europe or across the ocean, which this rich regional museum recounts.
The Castle of Lusuolo rises in defence of the village it is named for and of the important circulation network it overlooks: a crossing on the Magra river – active since the early 20th century – and a portion of the valley where the hills, which huddle around the stream, provided an easy oversight on the Via Francigena. Though originally belonging to the fief held by Corrado l’Antico (Conrad the Ancient), the Marquis of Mulazzo, its oldest, still visible structures can be dated back to the mid-14th century, when Lusuolo became seat of an independent fief whose prime marquis was Azone Malaspina, and which included Canossa, Tresana, Giovagallo, Riccò, Podenzana, Aulla, Bibola, Pallerone, Brina, Ponzano, Montedivalli, Gorasco, Beverino, Madrignano, Calice and Veppo. In 1450 it fell into the hands of the Genuan Campofregoso family, who partially demolished the castle.Giovanni Antonio da Faie, a 15th century chronicler from Lunigiana, wrote: “Del mexe de setenbre de 1450 vengono li maestri edifichatori per parte del duxe de Zenoa chi era meser Lodovico de Canpo Fruxghoso per inzegnare de fare derochare el castelo de Loxolo el quale per asedio l’avea avuto e nota che era un di beli casteli de Val de Magra”. (“Since the month of September of the year 1450 master builders were sent by the doge of Genoa Lodovico of Canpo Fruxghoso to instruct on the demolition of the castle of Loxolo which he had conquered by siege and which was one of the lovely castles of the Magra Valley”)
Among rivalries between Florence, Genoa and Milan for control over Lunigiana, and the revolts started by their subjects, the Malaspina marquises of Lusuolo surrendered the fief and its dominion to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The Castle was thus extended by the Florentines at the start of the 17th century.
The hamlet constitutes a typical example of a settlement developed along a single road axis, which coincides with the crest of a hill whose highest elevation is commanded by the castle.
The settlement is rectangular in shape, and its extremities, which coincide with the village’s only access routes, are guarded by powerful walls. The first record of a church in Lusuolo dates back to1187, when it is mentioned in documents from the Luni council, and it appears in Gregorio the 8th’s pre-emption as a possession of the nearby parish of Vieco, known today as the parish of SanMartino di Castevoli.
The Museum of Tuscan Emigration was created in 2004 thanks to a collaboration between theEmigration Documentation Center which is active within the Mountain Community of Lunigiana, the Region of Tuscany, the Council of Tuscans Abroad and the Municipality of Mulazzo, to gather knowledge and attention to the historical emigration of Tuscan peoples.
Its concept and structure develop across two levels, one material and one virtual. The first, which has its seat within the walls of the Lusuolo Castle, houses the museum library, conference room and multimedia room, where audio and visual materials can be consulted, as well as an exhibition path devoted to the “People of Tuscany”, which showcases the stories of those who were willing or driven to leave their lands for far-off destinations, and which features historical objects and documents and is “brought to life” by highly engaging documentary videos.
The second level is represented by the museum’s website, which allows online access to the information and materials collected through research (testimonials, letters, photographs, documents provided to the Museum by Tuscan emigrants and site users)