Isola Santa

The village of Isola Santa is on the Valdarni road, which leads from Castelnuovo to Versilia and Massa, in the centre of the Apuan Alps.

Starting in the 1950s, the village suffered a gradual depopulation that in little more than twenty years led the village to a state of almost total abandonment. Only in recent years, on local initiative, has a comprehensive renovation project involving some buildings begun.

Following the construction of an artificial reservoir in 1949, the church of San Jacopo is now located on a grassy promontory semi-surrounded by a stretch of water.

Historical notes

The first evidence of the presence of a place of worship at Isola Santa is in 1235, the year in which Giovannino, a lay brother from the hospital of Isola Santa, was called to be a witness to an act by which a certain Albachiara, widow of Pelliciario, confessed that she had debts to pay to the church of Lucca of Santa Maria Forisportam. It is no surprise that a "hospitale" was found right in this picturesque piece of land because nearby there was a busy road linking Garfagnana with Versilia. This place of worship was subject to the parish of Careggine and it had to pay tithes: through the records showing the amount of tax paid throughout the thirteenth century, it can be deduced that the charitable entity dedicated to San Jacopo enjoyed relative prosperity, but already at the end of the fourteenth century there ere the first signs of decadence. In 1580, the church and monastery were deconsecrated and used as warehouses; a few years later, in 1608, attention returned to this former hospital and it was reconstructed on popular initiative through the joint efforts of the two neighbouring communities of Capanne  and Isola Santa. For a few centuries the local inhabitants took care of the architectural complex and in 1899 the bell tower was completed; with the arrival of the artificial lake and the construction of the new parish church, it was again abandoned.


Isola Santa, panoramic view
Isola Santa, village detail
Isola Santa, Church of San Jacopo