THE PAPER MILL VALLEY IN TOSCOLANO MADERNO LAKE GARDA
Place of a productive tradition dating back to the 5th century, important papermaking centre of the Venetian Republic territories, a flourishing industry during the 19th and the 20th centuries: today the Paper Mill Valley of Toscolano shows considerable evidence of its industrial past in a scenery in contrast with the delightful landscape of the Lake Garda Riviera.
The ruins of the old paper mills and the country house, the remains of the channels built to take water necessary for papermaking, the path built by the paper manufactures more than a century ago: everything melts with a vegetation strongly growing since the final interruption of the industrial activity in the 1960s. Situated in the “Alto Garda Bresciano” Park, the paper Mill Valley represents one of the most important symbols of Italy’s industrial and historical heritage.
A CENTURIES-OLD TRADITION
The paper mills of Toscolano, already working since the second half of the 4th century, knew subsequently a quick development thanks to the Venetian and local printer demand –local printers were run by venetian people settled on Lake Garda.
Moreover stronger business relationships were established with the Levante Markets, until the defeat of the Venetian republic.
Around the half of the 19th century the “macchina continua” (a machinery that allow non-stop production) was introduced in many paper mills in Northern Italy: this marked the crisis of Lake Garda Paper Mills. Nevertheless, in 1875, Andrea Maffizzoli, the most dynamic local businessman, introduced the new machinery in his paper mill situated in Maina Superiore. At the beginning of the 20th century two important facts marked the start of the irreversible decline of the Paper Mill Industry in the Valley: a new hydroelectric power station was set up in Camerate and, in 1905, a new paper mill was started off by the lake by Maffizzoli – today’s “Cartiera di Toscolano” paper mill still produces paper and keeps alive the tradition.
THE GREEN VEGETATION OF THE PAPER MILL VALLEY
The charm of the landscape of the Toscolano Valley mainly comes from the rich variety of its vegetation, together with the remains of ancient paper mills evocating a flourishing industrial past. The intense green colour of the Mediterranean laurel tree colours the old walls of the Garde Paper mill Complex and creates a contrast with the maidenhair fern fronds that cover the rock at the beginning of the Valley.
Olive trees seem to bring a forgotten game of bowls in Botticella, by Maina Superiore to life, whereas their silvery green colour creates a natural frame for the ruins of the Vago Paper Mill and brightens up the terrace laboriously obtained on the Lume slope at the end of the Valley .
Cypress trees are everywhere: their verticality seems to rise in harmony with the grey chimney of the Maina Inferiore Paper Mill. Ilex, growing among the rocks looking on the lake, seeps into the Valley reaching, over Caneto and Vago, a magnificent monumental size. L’ Opuntha tuna tree, a kind of prickly pear tree, in Maina Inferiore and the middle of the Valley, remind that, despite to industrial activity, the care of vegetation was considered important. In this scenery, marked by ruins, the dense growth of the vegetation seems to underline the possibility of binding the industrial past together with a new future vitality.