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Isola Santa

Discover the amazing Isola Santa in Careggine

Sometimes, when you watch fairy-tale films, you get the feeling that some places are taken from reality, which is often more beautiful and fascinating than any cinematic fiction. Moving around with this idea in mind in Tuscany, for example, is a continuous discovery of landscapes and places bordering on magic or enchantment. We are talking specifically about a place on the ancient road that led from Versilia to Garfagnana and vice versa. We are in the municipality of Careggine, in the province of Lucca, one of the richest places to explore.

At some point along this route, around 1260, there is the first mention of the Hospital di San Jacopo, on Isola Santa, a place obviously intended to welcome and care for pilgrims. Originally the road was on the valley floor and the village was above the waters of the Turrita Secca stream. In the 1950s, a dam was built to create energy, and a lake was created at the bottom of the valley, which now forms the backdrop to the landscape, making it, if possible, more magical than it first appeared.

The village emptied quickly because, after the creation of the artificial lake and the subsequent problems with its water leveling, it was no longer very safe and comfortable to live there. For some time now, efforts are being made to give Isola Santa a new life based on tourism: there is a restaurant overlooking the lake and it is possible to stay in a bed & breakfast – a holiday home for a few days. The few remaining inhabitants have transformed the village into an Albergo Diffuso, which can be lived in all year round.

The village is surrounded by chestnut woods and protected by the peaks of the Apuan Alps; the houses are made of stone with slate roofs.

From Isola Santa there are several hiking trails leading to Pania della Croce, Pania Secca, Pizzo delle Saette, Mount Corchia, the Puntato alpine pasture and the abandoned village of Col di Favilla.
The paths almost all start from the dam, on which it is possible to walk, and indeed it is advisable to walk even if you don’t feel like going around the lake or hiking, because from there you have one of the best views of the village. The lake is also very popular with trout fishermen.

Author: Eduardo Lubrano)
Photo: Di Sailko – Opera propria, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43683949