The changing relationship between man and the environment over the centuries in the Province of Lucca is one of the most interesting subjects for visitor and scholar alike when they come here, in an area of wooded mountains, of hills with characteristic olive groves and vineyards, of cultivated plains and sandy shores.
The environment of Garfagnana has been shaped by man to a large extent and the exploitation of woods, pastures and fields is well documented by the many ethnographic museums dedicated to rural life.
Where the mountains didn’t offer enough resources for mean survival we can at least reconstruct the emigration process of the local population in search of better fortune.
Recently a crisis of the primary manufacturing activities has led to a new form of administration of the Garfagnana territory focusing on preservation rather than abandon. Regional parks and reserves were created to protect both the mountainous areas of the Apuans and Garfagnana, as well as the lakes and the thick “macchia mediterranea” undergrowth along the coast bordering on the Province of Pisa.
Following the Serchio river from the surroundings of Lucca towards Garfagnana we climb and reach the first chestnut woods, a culture that is documented here since the Early Middle Ages. For a better understanding of the territory and to discover a unique reality we suggest a visit of the ” Museo del Castagno” of Colognora di Pescaglia. Here we can learn all about the processing and exploitation of the chestnut as well as pay a visit to a so called ‘metato’ where chestnuts were put to dry.
Agriculture in Garfagnana was never really profitable since the soil was poor and land was divided into small plots that couldn’t support large families; the only solution then was to emigrate. This important socio-economic factor that dates back to the XVIIth century is illustrated in the ” Museo della Figurina di Gesso e dell’Emigrazione” of Coreglia Antelminelli. Here you will find a vast collection of those plaster statuettes made by artisans, emigrants of Tuscan origin, that not only could survive, but also reached success in producing them.
On the Apennines, a rough environment with a rich flora and fauna, a series of interesting excursions and visits to environmental education centers, created in the firm belief that the territory itself is a precious resource to be preserved and appreciated in all its variety, are possible. At Colle Fobia near Barga and at San Romano Garfagnana, where you find the ” Centro Visitatori of the Orecchiella Park”, are two didactic structures focusing on the natural habitat of Garfagnana. Here you can walk for days and days in about 60000 hectares of woodland with its chestnuts, hornbeams, Turkey oaks, alders, birches and beeches that open into heaths and meadows. The paths marked by the “Comunita’ montana” that has prepared the itinerary for a ten day hike called “Garfagnana Trekking” permit us to cover on foot and admire a territory which is once again home to wolves and golden eagles.
In San Pellegrino in Alpe you can visit the ” Museo Etnografico Don Luigi Pellegrini” where you will find information about the rural culture of the Toscana and Appennino Emiliano in an exposition of farmers’, shepherds’ and artisans’ tools together with furniture and other household items. On a clear day from San Pellegrino you will enjoy a complete panorama of Lucca’s mountains, from Garfagnana to the Apuans, and to the north you can recognise all the peaks of the Appennino Emiliano. The place is in the 1500-1700 meters a.s.l. zone where the woodland opens towards grassy slopes used as pastures.
Where to stay in Lucca
There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Lucca, check them out and make a reservation here.