Our history is contained in our coat of arms: two swords arranged vertically, reminders of the white arms industry that made our land famous in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
But you cannot strike iron if, in addition to fire, you do not have running water to temper it. And this water soon generated another industry. The first windmills were modified to move the blades that chopped the rags so that the mixture obtained could be pressed into special shapes to make sheets for writing or printing.
Over the years, the production of paper struggled with the increased difficulty of finding rags and cloths. Hence a pharmacist from Villa Basilica had the idea to replace the raw material with straw. The process was simplified and production increased. The new product was called "straw paper" thanks to its characteristic ochre yellow colour and was a huge success. Today it is still used by greengrocers, to serve cones of fried food or as a tablecloth in taverns all over the world.
Given the success of "straw paper", production intensified rapidly and to facilitate the movements of the "master papermakers" - who needed to move more quickly from one mill to another on foot, carts or mule – a networking of mule tracks and trails was built to connect the mills to the old paper mills, creating a trail that still runs today between the valleys of the municipalities of Villa Basilica and Pescia.
Each year in the piazza di Villa Basilica, “paper comes back to life” for a day during the Ponti nel Tempo festival as vintage machines produce straw paper as they did centuries ago.