Vallico Sotto : Local History

Various local history projects are going on at the Institute, mainly involving translating old books and talking to our Italian friends that have lived here longer than we have.


  • Una Gita alla Tana di Cascaltendine nel Monte di Gragno by Pietro Magri
    ("An excursion to Mount Gragno and the Cave of Cascaltendine")


    This is the story of the 1880 quasi-scientific expedition in which Barga priest Pietro Magri and a group of his friends explored the Cave of Cascaltendine, a rather interesting hole in the ground in nearby Monte Penna (though he calls it Monte Gragno). The original booklet - now in very poor condition - was shown to me by our lovely neighbour Delma who keeps it in her dining room table. Just for the search engines the cave is also known, confusingly enough, as the Tana di Casteltendine, the Buca di Castelvenere, and even the delightful Spelonca del Colle della Nuda. Having read the book, visitors to the Institute might like to make a short hike to the cave only a few miles down the valley.

    - Original Italian text, by P. Magri (PDF)
    - English translation, by M.D. Towler (PDF)
    - Photographs with extracts from the book, by M.D. Towler
    (except the four photos of Barga and the one of the Serchio ferry which were found, uncredited, on the internet).

  • You might also like to read 'The Palace of Ismeno' (PDF), a Barga News article about our quest to get into the inaccessible upper cave mentioned by Magri, in which we found the following:


    Finally, here is a somewhat scurrilous Barga News article of mine ('Bronze hermaphrodites and the Fat Boy Filter') incorporating a discussion of the history with further exploration of the cave by me and my mate Evans.

  • La Buca di Castelvenere (Gallicano, Lucca) by Pietro Mencacci and Michelangelo Zecchini.
    Atti della Società Toscana di Scienzi Naturali, Memorie, Serie A, 82 (1975)


    This is the original 1970s report of the archaeological excavation of the Tana di Cascaltendine referred to in Magri's 1880 book above (even though they call it the Buca di Castelvenere). The abstract reads :

    Excavations carried out at the Cave of Castelvenere in the province of Lucca have brought to light archaeological remains from various epochs datable from the second millenium B.C. up to the first centuries of the Christian era. The objects discovered suggest that the cave was the scene of cult activity - a conclusion supported in part by the recovery of a number of unusual bronze figurines of great antiquity, all either female or hermaphrodite.

    - English translation, by M.D. Towler (PDF)

    The bronze figurines found in the cave are now in the Villa Guinigi Museum in Lucca.

  • I Paesi del Gragno : Vallico Sopra, Vallico Sotto, Fabbriche di Vallico

    - La montagana (Vincenzo Pardini)
    - Dal Gragno alla Pania (Guglielmo Lera)
    - Il territorio di Fabbriche di Vallico (Angela Piano)
    - "Di Valio son / a Valio son nao, / meglio morir / che lascià il pennao" Storia di un piccolo paese (Gabriella Carli)
    - Realtà e ricordi di Vallico Sopra (Bruna Bertoli Barsotti)
    - Fabbriche di Vallico, note storiche (Amelia Mancini)
    - I poeti di Vallico (The editors)
    - Il gioco della palla elastica in Vallico Sopra e Vallico Sotto (Alfredo Bertoli Barsotti)

    Translation in progress (MDT)
  • Ricordi di un tempo lontano by Massimo Armani and Maria Grazia Benedetti, Translation in progress (MDT)

Rosetta the Balloon

At the end of the Turritecava valley 20 minutes from Vallico Sotto is the spectacular high peak area of Alta Matanna. Read about the 19th century gentlemen who connected it to the beach with a balloon on a cable..