This is the old mill at Candalla in the hills above Camaiore in northern Tuscany. I think it’s possible to rent it as a holiday home, but it’s perhaps not the most peaceful retreat. The pool attracts lots of visitors in summer, all of them keen to jump in and cool off.
I found this photo in a list of the top ten wild swimming locations in Italy on the Guardian website. It’s a surprisingly popular resort – Il Mulino di Candalla. Teenagers on mopeds and scooters gather downstream, while families and young children bathe in the shallower pools further upstream.
From here you go on foot, up a path just after the bridge that crosses the stream, in front of an old mill, the Molino di Candalla. Shortly after you will reach a wood and the ruined Pastificio Bertagna (XIX century). Further along, go down until you reach the banks of the stream. You will pass various other buildings, such as the XV century Marchetti mill, the Molinaccio mill dated 1690, the olive press belonging to the del Benedetti dated 1834, the Moriconi mill dated 1648, the mill and ex gunpowder works once belonging to the Benedetti family dated 1834, the Pardini mill of the XVI century and finally an olive oil press from the XVII century.
We escaped the raucous hubbub of the millpond, and climbing the path we were quickly absorbed into the green shade of the woods, where we found a quieter waterfall beneath a welcoming fig tree.
We walked under the mountain where climbers waited to ascend and families explored rock pools.
The ruined pasta factory recalled a similar walk in Somerset – Wells & Mells.
A spotlit Silver-washed Fritillary.
We scrambled down from the path to the stream, where spirits danced in the shadows…
then back again, climbing higher…
over the bridge, higher and steeper…
until the path disappeared and it was time to turn back.
The butterfly showed us the way.
We lingered in pools of dappled light where the stream washed over the remains of an old watermill, dissolving the evidence and transforming the post-industrial landscape into a tranquil, pastoral idyll.
These old ruined buildings built close together are only a small part of the tens of local industries that once thrived here, which used to depend on water power from the fast flowing streams. Some of the ruins are dangerous, falling apart and are covered with ivy and trees. However the landscape around them is beautiful, where over the years the stream has dug its way into the rocks, creating a number of small waterfalls. This walk, which takes less than an hour, is perfect for the summer because of the shade that the trees offer and the clear water of the stream, which in some places forms wide pools and is great for swimming.
We wandered between there and then and here and now in the flickering, liminal light.
The butterfly showed us the way.
Back to where we started from, and an attractive spot for lunch.
A former mill, this restaurant is at the end of a long track marked by a giant fork sculpture. You’ll need to book at the weekends as it is a very popular spot. The food is excellent, the pasta all homemade and second courses such as rabbit in prune sauce are more inspiring and original than many traditional Italian eateries. After dinner, you can go down to the river and chill in deck chairs listening to the tinkling of the waterfalls.
Just too bad it was closed!