Pontremoli stands at the foot of the Apennines, at the centre of a vast basin that extends as far as the Cisa Pass and embraces the large area of the Magra, Verde and Gordana valleys. The name comes from the Latin pons tremulus, which referred to the old bridge over the River Verde: tremulus is an old name for the poplar, the material used to build the bridge, or it might stem from the fact that the bridge tended to shake.
The old town centre sits on a spit of land between the confluence of the Verde and the River Magra, at the foot of the Piagnaro hill, which is topped by the castle of the same name.
You can see the town’s medieval history in its countless sandstone bridge houses, which are rather sombre. Pontremoli underwent significant economic development in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which saw it furnished with many new and beautiful signorial palaces. Along with Mulazzo, the town was a cradle of mobile booksellers, who, went to the towns and countryside further north with their wares in wicker baskets on their backs: the “Bancarella” literary prize is associated with this tradition.