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In Novata Mezzola, by the lake of the same name at the mouth of Valchiavenna, in front of the town hall in Piazza Europa 51/b there is a small museum which has a collection of descriptive images and a display of typical equipment used to extract the “sanfedelino” granite: the “Picapreda” Musuem.
The museum was founded to re-tell one of the most important stories of the Novate Mezzola area, where for almost two centuries the main activity of the population has been “picapreda” (literally stone breaker). Whole generations from Novate have quarried the Sanfedelino granite, which got its name because the first cave opened in the last twenty years of the 1700s, was almost behind a 10th century church within which the remains of the martyr Fedele were found.
The Sanfedelino granite was primarily used for street paving within the surrounding cities. Today you can find squares paved with this type of granite in Milan, Como, Pavia and Bologna.
As traffic intensified and the tram appeared along with the first motor vehicles, it was necessary to re-examine the methods of paving in the larger cities (which had pavements close to the ground and with trotting-paths) to protect pedestrians. The Sanfedelino granite was consequently used for the new raised pavements. The production of Sandelino granite was at its peak in the 1920s to the mid thirties: numbers of workers were at their highest attracted by good employment, spread across about twenty sites in the Novate caves. A slow and relentless decline followed which reached its lowest point in the seventies. Today only one cave remains in operation.
For more information: www.valchiavenna.com
Chiavenna Tourist Office
Tel. +39 0343 37485 - firstname.lastname@example.org