After we descended from the upper region of the mountain we set off to find a water mill set up on one of the streams of the Garfagnana. In the past these were a common sight, but now they’re aren’t many that are still in operation. This charming man is the miller and doesn’t have a son to take over for him when he retires. We all contemplated moving in and learning the trade, as his property is absolutely gorgeous.
The water actually runs right under the building where the mill is located. The water wheel is under there too, laying horizontally, rather than upright like the one we saw last year. When we first got there he took us into the room that held three (or four) large grinding stones, but told us that at that very moment the water wasn’t flowing fast enough to demonstrate. In addition to corn, chestnuts which are a staple of this area, are also ground into flour. We took a walk around his property for a bit and all of a sudden we saw the water was indeed flowing swiftly and so we ventured back inside to see the mill in action.
In this photo the corn is sliding down the chute and is ground between the massive stones.The ground meal actually falls onto the floor and I’m assuming it’s scooped up when there’s a good amount. I was thrilled to be able to purchase a kilo of his polenta and when I stand over the stove stirring the golden cornmeal, I will think fondly back on this day when we met such gracious people who opened their homes and showed us their trade.