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Photo ©Marco Giorgi

Colognora and its chestnuts

This quaint village in the heart of the Serchio Valley is famous for its chestnuts

Colognora di Pescaglia, in almost unknown village, is located in the municipality of Pescaglia, in the province of Lucca, and dates to 828 BCE. Exploring this traditional village, surrounded by chestnut woods, is like stepping back in time, and the small gardens dotted throughout offer spectacular views of the Apuan Alps. Colognora’s fame increased a few years ago, when Hollywood director Spike Lee chose the village as a location for filming Miracle at St. Anna in 2007 and 2008. The movie was shot along the Gothic Line, which was the last major line of defense in the final stages of World War II. According to the producer Luigi Musini, “the location is highly representative of what the war was in Italy, what our resistance was. Truly dramatic episodes took place there.”

The hamlet is also famous for being the hometown of Alfredo Catalani (June 19, 1854 – August 7, 1893), the opera composer whose best remembered for his works Loreley (1890) and La Wally (1892).

Keystone over a door in Colognora
Keystone over a door in Colognora - Credit: jennconspiracy

Colognora and its surroundings is considered a great example of rural architecture, with large courtyards, porticoes and historic dwellings with ovens and kitchen gardens. The village also includes several noteworthy house entrances, whose keystones are said to date back to the 16th century.

The woods in this area are mainly made up of chestnut trees, although there are some oak and maple trees as well. For those interested in wildlife, this is a great place to see buzzards, deer, wild boar and even porcupines in their natural habitats. There are many wonderful routes through the woods for hikers and cyclists, but the main attraction in Colognora di Pescaglia is the Chestnut Museum, where visitors can fully appreciate the importance that chestnuts have had in the lives of the village’s inhabitants as both a food product and a raw ingredient used in everyday life. For more passionate visitors, the museum can also arrange itineraries to discover the village and the nearby woods where the “chestnut civilization” can be experienced first-hand.

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Art and Culture