Amongst all the brass bands and speeches at the opening of the recently restored Villa Gheradi which took place earlier on this month ( article here) there was another less evident opening taking place which without a doubt deserved some attention.
There was a huge amount of public money spent on restoring the Villa and turning it into what will hopefully be a youth hostel and a cultural centre for the whole area but there was also the final stone put in place on another smaller restoration project and this time one which was completed without one single Euro of public money being spent.
The entire project was brought to fruition by volunteers of the Gruppo Alpini di Barga
They had painstakingly restored the monumental fountain built in 1600 which had over the years fallen into disrepair and was one step away from being demolished.
They had even managed to find examples of the famous “Diaspro di Barga” red and white stone to replace those that were missing in the facade.
As you can hear in the interview below (in Italiano) the scale of the project even kept one or two of them awake at nights as they tried to sort out the best way of achieving their aim of perfectly restoring the battered fountain.
Diaspro di Barga, from Barga, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Geological description: Milky white chalcedony with aggregates of red hematitic inclusions is cut by a rhombohedral network of fine calcite-filled fractures. Later chalcedony/colourless quartz replaces and is coloured by orange brown siderite. Secondary fractures are more sinuous and random. Dark brown areas are filler/polishing compound.
Jervis (1881) describes the precise locality, geological context, and the famous use of the Barga jasper in the chapel of the Princes in the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence. – source – Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Lorenzo Mazzanga, barghigiano, prefetto dell’Orto dal 1583 al 1592, cui è dovuta la scoperta del diaspro fiorito di Barga, pietra dura di grande valore estetico, della quale era possibile estrarre grandi blocchi. Molto ricercato e apprezzato da Francesco, granduca dal 1574 al 1587, il diaspro di Barga sarà impiegato in grandissima quantità, dal 1604 per tutto il XVII secolo, a Firenze, nella Cappella dei Principi, della Chiesa di San Lorenzo. Tracce delle antiche cave sono ancora visibili in località Giuncheto, presso Barga.
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