Mexican Molazzana

The comune of Bagni di Lucca in the Val di Lima holds the record of being the largest mountain comune in Italy. This shows in the many hill villages that surround it, all of which are well documented and described in Debra Kolkka’s post at

There is a total of thirty-four comuni in Lucca province. Here is a complete list of them by descending population.

The asterisked ones are the comuni in the Mediavalle and Garfagnana areas

COMUNE                             POPULATION      POP. PER  SQ KM        NO. OF FAMILIES

1 Lucca 87.598 472,2 39.763
2 Viareggio 61.238 1.920,9 29.408
3 Capannori 45.585 291,1 18.602
4 Camaiore 32.518 384,4 13.778
5 Pietrasanta 23.921 571,7 10.703
6 Massarosa 22.272 324,7 9.045
7 Altopascio 15.188 529,2 5.913
8 Seravezza 13.185 334,9 5.686
9 Barga* 10.146 152,5 4.202
10 Porcari 8.699 486,5 3.416
11 Forte dei Marmi 7.619 846,6 3.577
12 Borgo a Mozzano* 7.123 98,4 2.882
13 Bagni di Lucca* 6.152 37,4 2.991
14 Castelnuovo di Garfagnana* 6.026 211,4 2.448
15 Coreglia Antelminelli* 5.225 99,0 2.291
16 Montecarlo 4.446 285,2 1.723
17 Gallicano* 3.877 127,1 1.659
18 Pescaglia* 3.525 50,1 1.520
19 Stazzema 3.301 40,9 1.451
20 Piazza al Serchio* 2.463 90,9 1.000
21 Pieve Fosciana* 2.394 83,2 974
22 Camporgiano* 2.276 84,0 957
23 Minucciano* 2.186 38,4 1.085
24 Castiglione di Garfagnana* 1.828 37,6 770
25 Villa Basilica* 1.708 46,8 733
26 San Romano in Garfagnana 1.432 55,0 594
27 Villa Collemandina* 1.358 39,0 570
28 Molazzana* 1.109 35,1 504
29 Vagli Sotto* 981 23,9 460
30 Fabbriche di Vergemoli* 831 27 456
31 Sillano* 661 10,6 324
32 Fosciandora* 614 31,0 270
33 Careggine* 585 23,9 286
34 Giuncugnano* 485 25,6 198

What one immediately notices is that the mountain comunes make up the bulk of the comuni and that they are also the ones with the lowest population densities per sq. kilometre and, indeed, the ones with the lowest number of inhabitants. It’s amazing to note the difference between the most populated comune of Lucca with over eighty-seven thousand inhabitants and the least, Giuncugnano, with just four hundred and eighty five souls! (Please note I’m using the Italian convention of using a comma as a decimal point and a decimal point as a comma in the above figures)

Molazzana is one of those comuni (municipalities) of Lucca province which makes up the area known as the Garfagnana stretching north of the Mediavalle area of Bagni di Lucca. Molazzana counts just over a thousand inhabitants and has an area of thirty-one square kilometres. It, therefore, has to be counted one of the smallest of comuni in this part of the world.

Molazzana itself presents a “modern” appearance. It’s not that the houses are out of keeping with those found in more traditional villages – they are not out of scale and the rooflines are, as usual,  charming – but the town seems thoroughly “reconstructed”.

I eventually found out that Molazzana’s present appearance is due to two main causes:

  1. Significant past landslides.
  2. Substantial war-time destruction

From October 1944 to January 1945 the allies were stuck behind a line which crossed Molazzana. The supply lines had been gravely stretched and a hard winter threatened. When the allies were able to move on at the start of 1945 Molazzana was in the front line and suffered severe bombing, hence that “modern” appearance today.

Despite this, there are some interesting places to visit and the town centre still preserves its original street plan with quite picturesque narrow streets.

Molazzana’s church of San Bartolomeo is in the parish of Gallicano and was renovated in 1680. It had to be rebuilt in the nineteenth century after a landslide had almost totally destroyed it and presents a very simple exterior.

The interior is more interesting with a nave, two eighteenth century side altars in plaster and, behind the high altar, a statue of the town’s patron saint, surrounded by a host of angels.

Molazzana’s castle is one of three in the comune. The other two are at Sassi and Cascio.  It is in in the highest part of town and dates from the fifteenth century. There are still remains of the old surrounding walls, despite the almost entire destruction of the main keep that has taken place over time.

The upper part of the castle consists of a memorial park dedicated to the fallen and victims of fascism.

The best thing about the castle, however, are the views to be had from it which stretch over the  Serchio valley and encompass the Apennines and the Apuan ranges. These photographs taken in February 2006 will give some idea of what one can see from Molazzana’s castle.

The town is livelier in the summer when, in August, it hosts a Mexican festival with traditional Mexican foods, especially tacos and tortillas, and beverages, children’s entertainment and live music. I’ve been to it once and it’s quite fun with mojitos and beer to add to the sparkle.

I still have to discover, however, why Molazzana, of all places, becomes Mexican for three day of the year!


4 thoughts on “Mexican Molazzana

  1. The figure of 326 people relates to the area covered by the comune which also includes the villages of Fornovolasco, Calomini, San Pellegrinetto and Campolemisi, not just to Vergemoli itself.. Furthermore, I should make an important correction: since the beginning of this year,January 2014, the comune of Vergemoli no longer exists! It’s been amalgamated with Fabbriche di Vallico to form the new comune of Fabbriche di Vergemoli, So the smallest comune is now Giuncugnano. I’m not sure if Giuncugnano is the smallest comune in Tuscany. Certainly, Vergemoli was before its amalgamation with Fabbriche di Vallico. This post has now been updated with the correction. Incidentally, seven new comuni (by amalgamation) were instituted in Tuscany at the start of 2014 and fourteen old ones were dissolved – the highest number by far of changes in any region in Italy. Vergemoli is the only comune in Lucca province to have suffered this fate.

  2. Love the pictures wud like to get a copy of this book. Please let me know the cost and how you will send it.

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