The way of the Volto Santo (Holy Visage) starts at Pontremoli, home to the famous Stele Statues, and crosses around 150 kilometres of Tuscany, touching the Lunigiana, the green Garfagnana and the mid Serchio Valley. The goal of this pilgrimage is the wooden statue of the Volto Santo, which is kept in the Duomo di San Martino in Lucca, and which has been venerated since the Middle Ages by pilgrims from all over the world. The stages from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana onwards are shared with the Via Matildica del Volto Santo.
Lunigiana and Garfagnana, which are inlaid with the Apuan Alps, make for a fascinating borderland, famous for castles and citadelled hilltowns, distinctive stone bridges, slightly haunting country churches and a natural richness that encourages walking and hiking.
The trail of the Volto Santo follows the old medieval path that linked the Lombard territories of Po Valley with those of Tuscia (the Roman name for Tuscany), and deliberately avoided the areas under Byzantine dominion. The route came into use during the centuries of conflict between Lucca and Pisa in the Middle Ages.
As noted before, the end point of the journey is the Volto Santo, a walnut statue over two metres high, which is enclosed in a little shrine of Carrara marble in Lucca’s cathedral. It presents a true likeness of Christ, and has played its part in many a miracle.