Seniors Retire in Lunigiana

Jul 27th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

I read recently where this location is a great one for seniors who wish to retire abroad. I found a couple of others that will follow in a later blog but first let’s investigate Lunigiana. Google found that Tuscany is everybody’s favorite travel destination, and Lunigiana is the part of Tuscany that’s undiscovered. How’s that for starters? Love castles? Me too. Over 100 castles dot the Lunigiana landscape, which is really three valleys cut by rivers. There are abundant hiking trails in the woods and along the ridge tops. Pristine medieval villages are tucked into hillsides. It’s a wonderful and compact place to visit–and the Cinque Terre are only 45 minutes away to the west.

The Lunigiana is an historical territory of Italy, which today falls within the provinces of La Spezia and Massa Carrara. Its borders derive from the ancient Roman settlement, later the medieval diocese of Luni, which no longer exists. It owes its name to the city of Luni, an ancient Etruscan city and an ancient harbor of Roman times.

If memory serves me, my family and I were on our way to Pisa from southern France where I was doing some research on the growing of fruits and vegetables around Arles. We passed this area and I recall that I wanted to one day to come back. It is called the “Tuscan Riviera” and this map will show you precisely its location. Crossed by the ancient Via Francigena, Lunigiana is an area extending from the Apennines to the mouth of the Magra river. This area, belonging in part to Tuscany and in part to Liguria, is rich in mediaeval history, Romanesque churches and ancient villages of extraordinary beauty that dot the landscape making it difficult to choose what to see and do. It is the natural starting point to reach some of the most beautiful artistic towns (such as Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Parma, …) as well as numerous amenities. Here’s a travel guide with the best restaurants, wines and festivals in the region.

If you enjoy reading travel blogs, here’s one on Lunigiana as there is a large expat community in Lunigiana, mainly European and a lot of Brits. There are also a few Americans and a couple of Australians. And the food… The population is 130,000. Italy ranks second (tied with Spain) out of 25 countries on International Living’s Global Retirement Index for health care. Towns in the Lunigiana region with hospitals include Aulla, Fivizzano, La Spezia, Pontremoli and Sarzana. Pharmacists are found in most villages. Italy offers residents, including U.S. citizens legally residing in Italy, access to its national health plan, though many Americans opt instead to use private hospitals, which tend to provide better care than public ones.

Cost of living: Italy tied for 11th (with Uruguay) on the Global Retirement Index for cost of living, but 18th for real estate. A retired American couple can live comfortably on about $2,500 a month. The draw: Tuscany on the cheap. The Lunigiana region of northern Tuscany is home to a network of villages connected by well-marked hiking paths. Lunigiana isn’t on the radar of too many retirees yet, which means the region is more affordable than areas farther south in the heart of Tuscany. Italy has a Social Security agreement with the U.S. that can benefit people who’ve worked in both countries. Looks good to me. Do check it out and Ciao! jeb

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