On the origins of the name there is a discord: some historians state that it derives from the Herculeans, a Roman family that settled in the area, others from Hercules, that the local legends narrate as the founder of the village. Much more likely, the name derives from ARX (rock) or Arcul (small rock). It is a small town in the province of La Spezia, situated on both sides of the hilly area that separates the Gulf of La Spezia from the plain of the Magra and is part of the Park of Monte Marcello Magra. The town's foundation is immensely old, but its present appearance is still the one assumed in the Middle Ages. The houses are terraced, narrow and high, often built of stone and arranged in concentric rings. The main center features a tower on a pentagonal base, the only remaining evidence of the ancient castle built in the early XII century by the Estes Family. It is a thriving tourist resort, also famous for its culinary tradition, the cultivation of vegetables and the production of oil and wine.
The territory was used by Rome as arsenal and deposit during the wars against the Ligurian. The village, like others in the area, was built in a healthier location to avoid the malaria plague present in the Lunigiana marshlands. At the time of the Ligurians, the port was a trading centre, where Greek, Etruscan and Roman ships would find shelter. In the XI century it became a possession of the Orbetenghi, then of the Earls of Vezzano and later to the Bishops of Luni. In the XIII century it became a target of conquest for the Malaspina, but the town in 1278 submitted the dominion of Genoa. In 1799, during the conflict between the French and Genoese against the Austro-Russian forces, the tower and the castle were seriously damaged and remained so till 1884, when they were restored.
Not to miss:
The castle that overlooks the village, dates from the early XII century. In the next century the castle suffered numerous and violent sieges, memorable as the one of the Genoese in 1278, following which only the tower remained intact. It was rebuilt and turned into feudal palace. On the remains in 1885, the current houses the Town Hall were built
The tower is all that now remains of the old castle. Sixteen meters high, it features a series of battlements on top of small windows along the sides. Situated between the tower and the square of the town hall there is a small marble basin in 1601 for the measurement of wine.
The castle of Terbiano, with traces evidenced in a document of 963, was built by the bishops of Luni as a feudal residence. It features a square with four towers at the corners, the walls reach twenty feet high.
The military fortress Carnabino of XVIII century is located between Arcola and Lerici. Still intact with preserved moats and walls.