Back to the Iron Age

Like branches from a tree trunk valleys run off from the main Serchio river valley and each one is quite different, both scenically and socially, presenting very varied characteristics.

The Val Pedogna starts from where the train stops at the Diecimo-Pescaglia station and contains many interesting sights, several of which have been described in my previous posts.

Among its principal highlights are:

– Diecimo with its magnificent Pieve

– The village of Colognora with its chestnut museum.

(See my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/old-chestnuts/)

– The village of Vetriano with one of the world’s smallest theatres.

– The village of Celle with Puccini’s family house.

(See my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/celle-dei-puccini/)

At the very end of the valley, beyond Piegaio, is one the last traditional ironworks in Tuscany. It belongs to the Galgani family and the old boy in  charge of it carries on a trade which dates back to at least the sixteenth century when immigrants from the Bergamo region of northern Italy came here to exploit the rich metal ores of the mountains and set up smithies and forges. Indeed, traces of the Bergamasque dialect still exist in the locals’ speeches.

The last ironworks in Piegaio was closed twenty years ago,so the Galgani ironworks (or “distendino” as it is locally known since it distends or melts metal ore) is living history. Much of the equipment dates back to the eighteenth century including the bellows.

The forge is next to a fast running stream and is a quiet and picturesque spot. Mr Galgani will carry out any commission asked and will also repair your existing iron and metal tools. To step into his workshop is to truly enter into a past age antedating the industrial revolution. I just hope one of his nephews will carry on the business as Mr Galgani told me none of his sons are interested in iron-smelting…

Incidentally, the Galgani is one of the last three ironworks remaining in the Apuan Alps, together with those of Gragliana Graziani (Val di Cava Turrite) and Barsi of Candalla (Valle del Rio Lombricese).

There are umpteen more things to see in this valley, including the spectacular road across the Lucese pass. And this is just one of umpteen valleys in this region!

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4 thoughts on “Back to the Iron Age

  1. Pingback: The Earth at our Feet | From London to Longoio (and Lucca and beyond)

  2. Pingback: A Mountain Nativity Scene in a Cave | From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Two

  3. Pingback: The Restful Southern Apuan Mountains | From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Two

  4. Pingback: Valley Hopping in the Eastern Apuans – From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Three

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