The Lunigiana Natural History Museum
The Brunella Fortress is a splendid example of military architecture dating back to the first half of the 16th century. Constructed from the same black volcanic rock that forms the spur on which the fortress stands, it melds into the hillside taking on an evocative, monolithic appearance.
Secured by four powerful beams at the squared building’s corners – strong walls defended by a deep moat on the inland side and steep scarps to the South – it was the first large defensive and offensive complex to be built in inner Lunigiana following the introduction of firearms between 1470 and 1540. Along with the small garrison kept by the Aulla marquises, Italian, Spanish, German, Swiss and Austrian troops were alternatingly lodged within the fortress, brought on by the series of events that shook Italy and Europe during those times.
The only attested siege took place on 24 December 1733, when Spanish troops that had landed in La Spezia conquered the fortress after a three-week siege, defeating the local lord’s garrison. At the start of the 20th century, the fortress of Brunella was renovated by the British Waterfield family, who turned it into a luxurious, residential manor that received many intellectuals of the time, including the writer Lawrence.
In 1977 it was purchased by the State and assigned by the City of Aulla to be the seat of the Lunigiana Museum of Natural History.
Easily accessible pathways within the fortress’ botanical gardens will guide you to discover an array of local indigenous plants identified by their own individual plaques. Continuing into the fortress, the historical itinerary focuses visitors’ attention on its most significant architectural features, while the suspended garden offers magnificent panoramic views spanning across Lunigiana, the Appenine Range and the Apuan Alps.
Housed within the fortress’ central building, the Museum comprises four exhibition rooms, renovated in 1997, that offer a complete and innovative description of the landscape of Lunigiana, inviting visitors to focus on the relationship between the activities carried out by agricultural/farming societies and the natural resources they employ. There is also a scientific library, open to the public during the Museum’s opening hours.
A guided itinerary through panels that feature effective iconographic imagery and artefacts drives visitors’ reading of this highly significant territory in terms of its natural and environmental resources, which man has transformed throughout the millennia.
The monumental complex of the Brunella fortress, offers a substantial starting point for research and in-depth study of the area’s natural, historic and architectural characteristics