A list of random names? Hardly. In addition to the revered local family names, these are some of the family names of property owners,many of them permanent residents, of the six kilometre area between the fork at Pegnana/Tiglio through Tiglio Basso/Filecchio to the border of Barga/Coreglia at La Ferriera.
Yell, Tidey, Dodds, Campbell, Hopkins, Dahme,
O’Brian/Fentimen, Blair/Horvath, Diamond,
Wilson, Brinks, Parker, Cutler,
van Oost, Bell/Messina
From before the turn of the millennium through 2013 these people have invested in property with large sums of money and great effort to repopulate and help maintain the countryside. Without exception they contribute greatly, not only to the economy, but also the maintenance of the landscape, roads and waterways.
Most of them do their own property maintenance which is heavy labour, strimming, tree pruning, coppicing, and clearing. The majority happily and gratefully cooperate and participate with local historical landowners and in community projects and events. There is a strong sense of community on both parts. We have been welcomed and made to feel at home by the local community. There is much cross cultural sharing of labour and usually food. Whenever we are in need, the local community is there and often with extraordinary effort.
A meeting was held in the Teatro dei Differenti on Saturday March 1, 2014, in which was proposed an initiative to repopulate and reinvigorate the countryside in an effort to maintain it, including the roads and waterways. This is a partial text of the meeting:
“Emergency response, though necessary and unavoidable to deal with situations of extreme gravity can no longer be the rule. There is a need to invest in the area, encouraging and stimulating the repopulation of areas of the hills and mountains in a sort of “return to the past” when those who lived in certain areas deeply knew the territory and physically cared for it. The floods that have affected the province of Lucca, and especially those that occurred in Garfagnana and the Serchio valley, are not due to “overbuilding” but the abandonment and neglect of the land of the valley, hillsides and mountains, therefore, arises the ambitious project to pioneer a new phase of development, to restart the territory with the goal of becoming an example for the whole nation.”
Maintaining the roads has the obvious advantage of facilitating mobility both for the residents, and visitors alike who contribute more and more to the economy. Maintaining the waterways is imperative because the Serchio with its sources and effluents from the Apuan Alps and Apennines provide not only pure drinking water but form a major contribution to the electrical power infrastructure for the entire Tuscan region. I may be wrong but I think 80% was the figure given as contributed by the Serchio valley.
Returning to the past would be a difficult order. Supporting current ongoing efforts to maintain the countryside is necessary. Responding to what have been repeated requests for regular and routine maintenance of the roads, for example, keeping the drains clear to prevent both asphalt and roadbed erosion, is essential. Working with the residents and communities to help maintain the infrastructure around abandoned or absentee landowner properties. Communication between the Comune and the communities is necessary.
There is already a repopulation of the area by those who help maintain this beautiful countryside willingly, not only just caring side by side physically with the renowned and respected families, but also with great sentiment.
Article by Kerry Bell