It is worth pointing out at once that this valley is interesting and beautiful not only for its morphological, hydrographic and vegetational features; the lands of the Serchio valley are above all the product of centuries of human labour, the signs of which cannot escape even the hastiest visitor. The valley of the Serchio has its own particular identity; it is a distinctive and characteristic part of the Tuscan landscape. Its articulated and ever-0varied morphology, its geographical incorporation into present-day Tuscany, its portions at one time annexed to Florentine territory, its former dependence on the House of Este and its relations with Lucca – sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful – all these have ensured in this part of the world a mingling of different values a myriad of sensations and visual impressions that once perceived can never be forgotten. Yet this is one of the least known and least frequented parts of Italy, rarely included in tourist itineraries but, no doubt for this very reason, one of the best preserved in its original qualities. The river Serchio is an ordering element; around it the landscape takes form and articulates itself into the middle and upper valleys, with differing characteristics according to whether we consider the Apuan landscape, on the right bank, or the Apennines to the left.