High Garfagnana, the unexpected itinerary

This itinerary can be implemented with the support of LUCCA PROMOS, that will take care also of the organization of necessary local transfers.

Introduction to the itinerary

The day is devoted to the discovering of Gorfigliano a village located in the hearth of upper Garfagnana, a valley running parallel to the coast, where nature reigns supreme. The village is immersed in a wonderful mountain landscape within the Apuan Alps Regional Park, where some of the highest peaks, that constitute the local Marble basin, are situated. The territory, that forms an irregular polygon at the border between Lunigiana and Garfagnana, allows to make extraordinary day trips through the scenic paths in the woods that are crossed by brooks of pure water.

If you are travelling from Lucca, along the road to get here, you cannot miss the opportunity to make a stop-over to admire the magnificent “Devil’s Bridge” (Ponte del Diavolo). The Medieval “Devil’s Bridge” is one of the most beautiful of all Lucca province and surely one of the most evocative of Italy. It crosses the Serchio river near the town of Borgo a Mozzano (Lucca).

A PLUS - Marble: from quarries to art works

The area, of enormous scenic interest, includes all the highest peaks of the northern Apuan Alps and the great marble basins of Vagli, Gorfigliano and Orto di Donna. Marble extraction, in this area, begun to expand only at the beginning of 1900s, although the existence of the quarries was known since centuries, the marble was extracted only in rare occasions, for the construction of altars in local churches. The absence of access roads to the quarries has blocked for centuries the expansions of the activity, until it was decided to build roads that facilitate the beginning of this booming commercial activity that has continued for more than half a century, stopping the emigration phenomenon toward other countries and especially toward the United States of America, owed to the lack of work, in an area historically devoted to agriculture and pastoralism. Some example of marble extracted today are: Calacatta, Arabescato and Venato. The marble extracted here has been used all around the world and has reached all continents. Some example of art works and architectural uses can be found at the St. Paul Cathedral (London); the Emirates Towers (Dubai) and the Vatican (Rome).

The following itinerary can be done in all seasons. In case of adverse weather conditions visits could be cancelled or postponed.

> Morning

Starting point: “Chiesa Vecchia Gorfigliano”.

The journey will start by visiting the “Chiesa Vecchia di Gorfigliano”, consecrated to Saint Justus and Saint Clement, built on the ruins of the ancient castle in the ages 1706 – 1720 (the castle it was previously Langobardic then passed to the pontifical court) that represents a work of great historical, artistic and cultural value. It reminds the Romanesque style, with a shed roof and a wonderful vault made with local tuff. The church was seriously damaged during the earthquake in 1920 and reduced to a heap of ruins and abandoned. In 1983 the parish priest Don Alberto Bartolomei began the work of recovery and restoration of the church. Many volunteers, and their leader, Mr. Olinto Cammelli started to work with love, passion and expertise in over 25 years and they restored the complex to its former splendour. From the church it is possible to enjoy a very beautiful view of the Gramolazzo Lake.

Next to the church, the Cultural Association “Paese Vecchio di Gorfigliano” has opened the Museo dell’Identità dell’Alta Garfagnana “Olinto Cammelli”, to show the entire collection of ancient work tools (over 1400 objects), that have been donated to the association by Mr. Cammelli wife, after his death. The museum has been inserted into the “Ecomuseo dell’Alta Garfagnana network”. It is composed of two levels. On the first floor there is a room where the working machines are showed together with the historical reconstruction of Gorfigliano before and after 1900s when the marble excavation has begun. The path leads to the main room of the museum where hundreds of objects linked with the ancient expertises such as quarrymen, shoemakers, carpenters are showed. On the second floor there is a library with a reading room and a meeting room.

OPTIONAL EXPERIENCE FOR GROUPS (minimum 20 people) – OPEN AIR “MARBLE PARK”

(for detailed information and reservation, please refer to the Cultural Association “Paese Vecchio di Gorfigliano”)

In Gorfigliano (località Segheria), the Association has created an open air “Marble Park”. Here an accurate reproduction of the “Helicoidal wire” has been placed. The “Helicoidal wire” “which consists of a stell cable formed of three wires twisted together” , was used by the quarrymen, more than half a century ago for the cutting of marble blocks. The Association, from since 2005, organizes each year on the second Sunday of August, an historical commemoration of ancient quarrymen. A group of elderly quarry men show how to cut using this device to show to the visitors the real life of quarrymen. Contacting the Association it would be possible, for a group of 20 tourists minimum, to enjoy this experience also during other times of the year.

After the visits you can easily reach by car all the options indicated for lunch.

> Afternoon

GARFAGNANA INNOVAZIONE – OPTIONAL EXPERIENCE FOR STUDENTS AND MARBLE OPERATORS

Garfagnana Innovazione is located in Gramolazzo (within the municipality of Minucciano – LU), in the heart of Garfagnana. It is a technological pole, business incubator and services centre for the stone industry enterprises of the area. The mission is the application of technology and innovative machinery for marble and stone processing. The state-of-the-art Center has laboratories for the processing and carving of marble and stone. These labs are equipped with a wide range of manual and mechanical tools, and seven-axis robot arms for manufacturing and scanning. This unique combination of robotic scanning and manufacturing makes possible the experimentation and realization of products in different environments, in this case to create sculpture in particular with the workshop that is now going on at the Center.