At the heart of the Apuan Alps, just after the crossroads for Arni on the road leading down to the coast of Versilia, you can find a peaceful oasis, a place so unexpected and beautiful that seems to come straight out from a fairytale. It's called Isola Santa and belongs to the municipality of Careggine, in the territory of Lucca.
Isola Santa is a very old village, built in the Middle Ages around a lodging for travellers and pilgrims on the banks of the Turrite Secca river. In particular, it was a place for travellers to recover after passing through the Foce di Mosceta, a road between Versilia and Garfagnana.
In 1950, the construction of a hydroelectric power station forced the inhabitants to leave their homes. But, years after, the old inhabitants decided to get back to the village and to restore its ancient beauty: in the 2000s, a renovation project brought life again on the shores of the lake. Despite that, Isola Santa remains today almost a ghost town where the houses are empty and where just trout fishermen and sporadic travellers pass by.
Even if this place is off the tourists' paths, it is a village that seems to be made on the purpose to take pictures or to be painted.
Going there, visit the Church of San Jacopo (built in 1260 as a lodging for pilgrims) and start a beautiful hike towards the peaks of the Apuan Alps.
By car: from Castelnuovo Garfagnana follow the signs to Arni and Seravezza on the SP13 road for about 13 Km. From the coast, you can take the motorway and exit in Massa. Follow the signs Passo del Vestito and then for Arni. Then take the SP13 road (starda del Cipollaio) that comes from Versilia. Continue towards Castelnuovo Garfagnana for about 4 km.
By train: the nearest stations are Castelnuovo Garfagnana, Pietrasanta and Querceta. Then you can reach Isola Santa by bus with VaiBus company.
By bus: Isola Santa is connected to Castelnuovo Garfagnana and Pietrasanta by VaiBus company.