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you are here: Home Liguria The Magra Valley Luni (Ortonovo)


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Luni (Ortonovo)


The village's name derives, for some, by the consecration of the city to the moon goddess Diana Lucifera, for others, from the word Lun, which means marsh, because the territory of Luni, anciently, was surrounded by marshes that the Romans in the time , managed to reclaim.
It is a district of the town of Ortonovo, in the province of La Spezia, situated near the border with Tuscany. It was a Roman colony founded in the II century B.C. on the ancient border between Liguria and Etruria, in the plain of the Magra and it disappeared from the chronicles in the XIII century. The ruins of Luni represent the most important Roman archaeological center in Liguria. From Luni, in fact, derives the name of Lunigiana. Of the ancient city remains the whole urban structure characterized by the squares, the shops, from the monumental buildings, roads, temples, the forum, the theater, houses and, finally, from the amphitheater. On the remains of Capitolium Lunense is situated the National Museum, which houses the important archaeological exhibits found here.
Although belonging to the Ligurian inhabitants, the port of Luni, since ancient times, was used by the Etruscans and the Greeks for trade. The colony was founded by the Romans in 177 BC during the campaign against the Ligurian, who, despite having lost the first time in battle in 180 BC, continued to fight until 154 BC, when they were finally defeated by the consul Claudius Marcellus. In 89 BC Luni, along with all of the other towns of Liguria, obtained a Roman citizenship. After an initial period of major building expansion, under the emperors Antonini, an amphitheatre was built, suitable to host up to 7000 people. During the V century Luni was chosen as an Episcopal seat, sacked by the Goths, conquered by the Byzantines in 552, and occupied by the Lombards in 642 and it lost its dominance in the commercial field. Conquered by Charlemagne in 773, Luni experienced a new period of relative prosperity. Subsequently it was sacked by the Arabs before, and destroyed by the Normans, then. In later years it submitted a final collapse because of silting of the harbor, the continuous presence of malaria and pirates. The inhabitants were forced to relocate their settlements and chose the towns of Sarzana, Ortonovo and Nicola.

Not to miss:
The archaeological site of Luni opened in 1964 to house the finds from the excavation. The complex is formed by the Archaeological Museum of Ortonovo from nearby archaeological area and the amphitheater dating back to the first century.
The early Christian church of S. Maria Nuova, built on the ruins of a Roman building and of which today appear only the remains of the tower and apses.


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