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Museo della carta

Paper Museum in Pescia

Documentation Centre on Paper Manufacturing and the Paper Museum in Pescia

Map for 43.993750,10.708622
Piazza della Croce 1
Scholars suspect that paper mills may have already existed near the city of Pescia in the Middle Ages, although news of their presence is recorded only centuries later. It was mainly in the second half of the 18th century, with the abolition of the monopoly on paper by Grand Duke Francis Stephen of Lorraine, that the paper mills and factories in Pescia significantly grew in number and importance, exceeding those in Colle Val d’Elsa, which had long been the capital of paper production in the area. This is how Pescia became the most important paper producing centre in the Grand Duchy in the 19th century. The paper mills used the water from the Pescia stream, collecting it through a dense network of canals and millraces.

The raw materials used were rags, mainly made of hemp and linen, and carnicci, which were the fragments of flesh that remained attached to animal hides. Drafted around 1820, the Regolamento set out the first regulations governing paper mills: what machinery and working methods were to be used, and what the division of labor would be in paper mills. In a factory with a single vat, for example, the ground floor was utilized for pulp-making tanks, the vat and boiler. On the second floor, the "ripper" to tear the rags, the workshops and accommodations for the "pulp-making tank deputy" were lodged. On the third floor, there were lodgings for the workers and the director. On the fourth floor, there was the spreader and a large single room with very large windows, where the sheets of paper were placed to dry.

In 1992, the Documentation Centre on Paper Manufacturing was established in order to document this historical manufacturing activity. Later, it set up a fascinating museum divided into two centers: the Documentation Centre on Paper Manufacturing, which exhibits educational models of machinery, and the former "Le Carte" paper-mill centre, which conserves old devices (several of which date back to the 18th century) for the handcrafted production of special paper. The collection consists of equipment and machinery (vats, rag-grinding pulp-making tanks, machinery for the preparation of mixtures, hand-presses, a screw-press and a water turbine) utilized at the "Le Carte" paper-mill. On the ground floor, the facilities are still in their original location. The collection also includes hand-operated machines for making paper, such as ruling machines and shears, in addition to filigrees and models of excellent quality papers, including the one chosen by Napoleon Bonaparte for his wedding invitations.
The town of Pescia, heart of the green and remote Svizzera Pesciatina, is a city whose monuments bear witness to its history. The Pescia Cathedral, the old parish church (once controlled by the Bishop of Lucca), is an emblem of medieval history, while its secular municipal structures tell a different story. Originally a castle-city, Florence divided Pescia from Lucca in 1339. ...