The Ecomuseum of the Valle delle Cartiere of Toscolano Maderno, which coincides with the territory of the two ancient municipalities of Toscolano and Maderno, now unified, has as its fulcrum the Valle delle Cartiere, which from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century represented the center of economic life and social life of the local community.
The first certain information on the existence of paper mills on the Toscolano stream dates back to 1381 and is found in a notarial deed that regulated the distribution of water between the two municipalities of Toscolano and Maderno.
In the document he mentions the folli of the Bellinzani family, that is, the hammers to tread the rags, raw material for the manufacture of paper, which took water from the chiusa delle Garde, and who therefore were in this first section of the valley.
It follows that as early as the 14th century paper was being manufactured in Toscolano Maderno.
Located at the mouth of the valley, this locality was historically the site of paper production. Numerous images of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the paper mill itself, now in ruins, in which the activity continued until 1959, are also evidence of this.
What can I see in the Valle delle Cartiere?
This excursion offers several peculiarities worthy of enchanting your attention.
Entering the valley you cannot help but notice the beauty of the nature that surrounds you. You will follow with your eyes the Toscolano stream that warbles among the rocks of the gorge (of the type called “Lombard scale”, thickly layered and folded), you will observe a small waterfall between ferns and mosses, you will enter the valley more and more densely. Among the centuries-old ruins of the paper mills that once populated the valley, the Paper Museum will appear, set up in the ancient paper mill of Maina Inferiore, perfectly restored. The visit inside it lasts about 45-60 minutes with a guide voice by downloading a dedicated App at a cost of 1 euro or a guided tour for small groups (full ticket 7 euro, reduced 5 euro – for more info click here) and represents the story centenary of paper production, literally captivating adults and children.
In the museum complex you will also find an excellent refreshment bar and along the way the possibility of having a picnic outdoors in complete peace.
There are numerous information panels that you will encounter along the entire route and which explain in detail everything that surrounds you from both a naturalistic and historical point of view.
How to reach the Valle delle Cartiere and where to park?
You reach the town of Toscolano Maderno (BS) from the SS45bis road. Right in the center of this locality you will find the sign indicating the way to take the Valle delle Cartiere. Proceed through a couple of tunnels dug into the rock and you will find yourself in a free parking lot where you can leave your cars and motorcycles (it is not very large, be careful, if you go in very high season try to arrive at strategic times to avoid difficulties).
You can easily visit the Valle delle Cartiere even arriving by ferry from the most distant shores because from the disembarkation of the ship at the port of Toscolano Maderno to the entrance of the valley it will take about 15/20 minutes on foot to arrive, so it is comfortable and easy to reach for pedestrians.
How long is the walk in the Valle delle Cartiere?
The walk is about 4.5 km long round trip (calculated starting from where the dirt road begins before the two tunnels and up to the end of the valley before the start of the agritourism path uphill towards the mountain, which is temporarily closed). The route is almost entirely flat, there are only some modest climbs in the final part.
Is the Valle delle Cartiere suitable for families with children?
Of course, it is suitable for children of all ages and can also be traveled with trekking strollers. This is an ideal excursion for them because they will be entranced by the ruins of the old paper mills, very suggestive, and by the history of paper inside the Museum.
The Valle delle Cartiere is always open and is also magnificent for indulging in a simple running session, a walk with your dog, a moment of introspection, thanking the easy life we have today compared to those who populated it in medieval times and he created our roots with physical effort and sacrifice.
See you next time dear Outdoors!
Silvia Turazza – Garda Outdoors editorial staff