Aulla is the main commercial town in the area located at the A15 exit of the Parma-La Spezia motorway. Although not the prettiest of towns (the old town was destroyed by allied bombardments in the Second World War) it is being largely re-developed in modern Italian style. The town, which has a population of about twelve thousand, was born on the 27th of May 884 when the Marquis-Count of Tuscany, decided to build a church and an abbey at the point where the Aulella river flows into the larger Magra river.
Aulla is dominated by the Fortezza della Brunella, a large square fortress built in the 15th century. Now restored, the fortress can be reached in few minutes walk from the city centre and is the symbol of the town. The Fortezza della Brunella hosts the Lunigiana Natural Science Museum and is located in the middle of a beautiful park, with a view of the two rivers in the valley.
Its strategic position at the foot of three important passes (Cisa, Cerreto and Lagastrello), and on the road to Casola and to the Garfagnana, made Aulla a central place for trade between the inland and the sea.
In the course of 11th and 12th centuries the Malaspina family and the Luni bishops competed over Aulla, until the former eventually succeeded. In 1522, the Malaspina family sold Aulla to Giovanni delle Bande Nere. For three years bloody fighting ensued until the Malaspina came back and took power again.
The situation remained quiet until the eighteenth century, and Aulla could develop thanks to trade. In 1831 and 1849, Aulla took part in the famous riots that took place in the whole Italian peninsula; it then joined the newly born Regno d'Italia.
In the following years Aulla developed further, thanks to the Parma-La Spezia railway and to the ever-increasing importance of the Cisa road - the old pilgrim road to Rome. More recently, the motorway and, in 2004 a new railway station, continue to help Aulla to develop and grow as a thriving and lively town.
The surrounding countryside is magnificent, and conveys the atmosphere of old times. Some of the more interesting spots are: Caprigliola, whose city walls were built by the Medici; Bibola, with an old ruined castle; Albiano, rich in medieval houses; Olivola, in a dominating position, and Pallerone a, medieval village that hosts a mechanical "presepe" (Nativity representation) made in 1935.