The Calomini Hermitage, a passersby’s consolation
In the late 18th century, Florentine naturalist and doctor Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti visited the Calomini Hermitage – in Garfagnana, just a few kilometers from Vergemini, Lucca – on one of his “Trips in various parts of Tuscany to observe their natural outputs and ancient monuments” (to quote the title of the book in which he collected his historical and scientific observations on the region).
“On the top of this secondary mount,” Targioni Tozzetti wrote, “or should we call it a hill, where the mountain leans on a cliff, tall and perpendicular, passersby are offered a wonderfully consoling view amidst these terrible deserts. It is such a beautiful little church, with such pleasant decoration, that it could appear in any city. It is dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary and known as Calomini Hermitage, under the name of Saint Mary ad Martyres […] and sits right on the edge of that vertical-cut mountain that seems ready to ruin onto the bottom of the valley […].”
The Hermitage was originally built around the year 1000, when – according to tradition – the image of the Holy Virgin appeared to a young shepherdess; its current structure dates back to the 17th century, and was funded by alms collected by the faithful, between 1631 and 1690.