The millennial mystery of the Statue Stele

A fascinating journey into the past to discover the Statue Stele of Lunigiana, enigmatic figures carved in stone by the ancient inhabitants of the Magra valleys.

The Museum

The Statue Stele of Lunigiana,  are the most important and significant collection of prehistoric anthropomorphic sculptures in all of Europe: , stone ancestors carved between the Copper and Iron Ages by the population that inhabited the Val di Magra, representing male and female images characterized by weapons and jewelry, respectively. Abstract and stylized images, the result of a precise expressive choice, which were scattered over the territory for a long period, with a function that is still unknown today, and which were then concealed and destroyed in the following centuries.

The guided tour of the Museum allows a complete story of this phenomenon with in-depth study of the main themes related to the archaeological finds, the archaeological contexts and the interpretation of the Statue Stele. But it also offers the possibility of an emotional experience in contact with ancient and highly suggestive objects.

The Museo delle Statue Stele Lunigianesi is dedicated to the historian Augusto Cesare Ambrosi and has been hosted, since 1975, inside the Piagnaro Castle in Pontremoli. The recent restoration (2010-2015), in addition to expanding the collection, has allowed the Museum to be completely renovated thanks to the prestigious signature of architect Guido Canali, with the creation of an  exhibition of great charm in terms of content, lighting, and emotional impact.

Read more: – Official Website of the Lunigiana Stele Statue Museum – Official website of the Terre dei Malaspina and Statue Stele Museum Network

The Piagnaro Castle

The castle is located on the hill overlooking the historic center of Pontremoli. Built around the year 1000 with functions of defense and road control, it has represented the last bastion of defense for the citizens of Pontremoli on a variety of occasions. Its name comes from the “piagne,” sandstone slabs traditionally used in Lunigiana to make roofs and still visible inside the structure today. Long used with a military function and as barracks, it was used as a school and later as a private residence. After a period of abandonment, it has been completely recovered in the last 30 years thanks to numerous restoration campaigns.

The present architectural complex, the result of numerous reconstructions and extensions, is distinguished by an imposing keep (early 15th century) located at the highest part of the hill. The fortified tower  dominates the entire fortification and still shows traces of the ancient entrance with a drawbridge. Opposite the tower rises an imposing building body, used in the past as military barracks. The remaining part of the castle is characterized by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century defensive structures, equipped for the use of artillery and firearms, with a large courtyard surrounded by mighty bastions equipped with connecting ramps and corner garrets.

In addition to the museum, the castle houses a hospitality point for pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena.


It is possible to arrange the tour upon request for individuals, school groups or small groups.

The visit to the Lunigiana Stele Statue Museum is always combined with a visit to Piagnaro Castle and can also be combined with the daily educational itinerary “Stone Ancestors: archaeologists for a day” for elementary and secondary schools.

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