A town of great strategic importance historically

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Rebels against or subordinate to the Lucchesi, in any case playing a role in the contrasting interests of three different States: the oligarchic Republic of Lucca (then Principality and finally Duchy); the dominion of the Este Ducal family in the Province of Garfagnana (from 1451); the ever-incumbent threat of the Florentine domination, from 1347 rulers of Barga, thus wedged between the Lucchese and the Este lands.
On these lands can be found many rich and appetising historical mentions by reading the papers conserved in the archives. From the memory of this past emerge some of the protagonists of the cultural life that were born here, for example the Gallican Domenico Bertini (1417-1506) who ascended to the highest honours of the Republic of Lucca (gaining citizenship, orator work in delicate embassies, many jobs in the Elder’s College that supported the State). He also held an important role at the Papal Chancery (starting with Nicola V and then becoming papal secretary for Sisto V and Innocenzo VII). Accumulated titles and recognition did not stop him being generous with others: a client of many precious works of art he can be certainly named as the benefactor of the Lucchese sculptor Matteo Civitali.

Antonio Vallisneri (1661-1730), court doctor for Charles IV of Hapsburg, as well as a naturalist to whose name are linked discoveries on the origins of fossils and the reproduction of insects to such a point that many consider him to be a forerunner in the theory of evolution. He was born in Trassilico, like Leopoldo Nobili: physicist, known scholar and inventor especially in the magnetic and thermoelectric fields.

There is no lack in valuable and beautiful works of art, such as the glazed earthenware altar-piece attributed to Andrea Della Robbia (Gallicano, Cathedral of St. Jacopo), or the painted panel by Simone Carretta in the XVI century (Trassilico, parish church of St. Peter). But the works in wrought iron and clear stone are not outshone in this circle of artistic production: a local artisan tradition that was certainly favoured by the richness of the stream waters and by the presence of mines and caves.

Voluntary work and associations throughout the year organise various exhibition. Of particular interest: the “Sacred representation and massacre of the innocents”, a form of popular theatre between the sacred and the profane that takes place during the Christmas period: the “collection witch” that is held on the eve of Epiphany and of which every town in the Gallican area carries out their own specific version but that in any case consists in going from house to house and singing in order to collect offerings from the inhabitants.
In the main piazza of Gallicano the traditional “bonfire” for the last day of carnival when a symbolic puppet is burnt, a trace of ancient divinatory and propitiatory aims. We continue, along a shady path created around the Serchio to play the “throwing of the cheese”: a long-ago game of pastoral origins on which the medieval statutes themselves dictated the rules to discipline the use of it.
The Gallicano holds a tasty gastronomical festivals organised by various local associations mainly in the spacious council sports buildings, where the “Festival of people and nations” is also hosted. On 25th July St. Jacopo is celebrated and during the traditional Palio the ancient districts challenge each other running in allegorical carts made out of papier maché, sporting events and folkloristic processions. Some exhibitions of religious character and a certain grandeur are held at Cardoso and Verni, during the month of August.
At Christman every year there is a spectacular “Christmas Torchlight Procession”, for charity, always gaining great attendance.
The “Flag-wavers of Gallicano”, are famous, and put on an acrobatic show, worth seeing.

Cover image credit: Stefano Colognori