Timeless and otherworldly, Isola Santa is a hidden place tucked away in the Garfagnana and Mid Serchio Valley, which feels like it’s come straight from a fairytale. The village stands on the shores of a small man-made lake, in the Turrite Secca valley, almost concealed in the chestnut forests of the Apuan Alps.
The mountains reflect in the lake, causing visitors to gasp outloud at the beauty of the scene before them, while the little stone houses with their slate roofs conjure up a centuries-old quietude. The silence of the woodland and forest trails provide easy walking routes. In the town, visit the lovely Church of San Jacopo, savouring the peace provided by this natural wonderland, where time feels like it’s stood still.
The origins of Isola Santa seem to date to prehistory, although its foundations date to the Middle Ages when the town – for centuries characterized by the isolation and distance from other places – was frequented by pilgrims travelling between Versilia and Garfagnana, who stopped at the ospitale (inn).
The construction of the dam gradually forced the inhabitants of Isola Santa to leave their homes, which had become impractical and unstable due to the constantly changing water levels.
The homes have now been renovated and travellers can choose from a range from amenities and places to eat. Fishermen love the village for the trote fario, a type of trout that’s typical of Garfagnana and the Media Valle del Serchio.
Isola Santa is the perfect destination for outdoor activities for all those looking for peace and quiet in nature, or even a photo session with a more adventurous flavour.
Take the Armi e Serravezza provincial road, Isola Santa is 17 km from Castelnuovo Garfagnana. Or take the train as far as Castelnuovo Garfagnana and then the E36 bus to Isola Santa.