The old village of Isola Santa

The village of Isola Santa is located on the road connecting the Garfagnana with the Versilia coast. Visitors can reach it driving for about 13 km along the road SP13 from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. This small village is located on the left side and it appears to the visitor’s eyes as a sort of fairy-tale place, with its lovely stone-built houses, the nice church with the bell tower, the lush vegetation surrounding the small lake, the rock cliffs that frame the wild and narrow valley of the river Turrite Secca. The first historical documents relating to the village of Isola Santa date back to 1260, but, probably, it has much more ancient origins: infact, in that place, there was a so called “hospitalis,” a sort of medieval building accommodating the tired travelers who crossed the Apuan Alps, passing from the Garfagnana area to the Versilia coast and viceversa.

In 1949, the simple and peaceful life of the inhabitants of Isola Santa radically changed with the construction of the dam for electricity production from the water of the river Turrite Secca. The electricity company Selt Valdarno created an artificial lake that submerged half of the ancient village. It was the beginning of the end for Isola Santa. The houses that were not sacrificed, suffered considerable consequences in terms of structural stability as a result of the continuous daily excursion of the water level, required by the electric company that managed the dam. The last inhabitants of the village, after various protests, were able, in the mid-70s, to achieve new solid homes in other places. Since that time, what remained of the town was completely abandoned. However , in recent years, , thanks to the tourism development in the area, the village seems to have known a second youth: a renovation project has led to the recovery of several buildings and to the creation of an extended bed & breakfast and of a restaurant-bar-

For those wishing to discover this small village and the surrounding nature, we recommend to walk along one of the many trails starting from the center of Isola Santa. In some points, you can still glimpse the ruins of the submerged part of the village.