Lunigiana is a mountainous territory in Tuscany, extending across the Magra River valley to a creek known as Vara. It takes its name from the ancient settlement of Luni that was established in 177 BC.
Thanks to its geographical position, the Magra Valley has always been a major trade route between the southern Italian peninsula, through the Po River Valley to the rest of Europe. The ancient Roman road that connected Pisa to Genoa, via Luni, and extended all the way north to Arles, was built over a prehistoric trail.
The earliest reference to honey production in this region is a detailed tax assessment, from 1508, that lists honey as an income-producing activity and sets a tax on each of the 331 beehives in the area. Honey was used at that time as a general sweetener, as an essential ingredient in cakes and desserts, and for its medicinal qualities. The wax, on the other hand, was used to manufacture candles.
The great importance of apiculture to the earliest history of the valley’s economy is evidenced by legal statutes and ancient regulations on swarm recovery, on colony placement, and other necessary activities for maintaining beehives.
Legal documents from the 18th Century provide a glimpse of measures adopted by communities against thieves. Regulating bodies kept lists of honey producers, that were updated each year and included information on the number of hives owned, as well as the amount of honey they harvested.