Slate and more

Val Fontanabuona - Slate: the economy and culture of the valley.

Slate has been the material on which the economy and culture of the valley has been based for centuries. The Ligurians have extracted it from the ground since ancient times to use it as a material for construction and crafts. Some box tombs dating back to the Iron Age and found in the Chiavari area were already in worked slate, as well as the tiles and architraves of the ancient villas and the floors of the churches. In Fontanabuona, mining became the backbone of its economy in the 19th century. Since then the black stone, or the "Bread that sleeps" in bowels of the earth, according to the suggestive definition of a priest of the valley, has become the protagonist of a thriving local industry. Tiles, blackboards, pool tables, handicrafts and works of art are just some of the possible uses of this stone. Today the mining activity is less widespread but always present in the valley and with productions that carry on quality and tradition.

In addition to the processing of slate, there are many artisanal products that have characterized the history of the valley. Alongside the agricultural activity, the enterprising fontanini gradually over the centuries have become wool makers, bakers, have manufactured and traded toys and have given life to a tradition of handcrafted brocade weaving that survives unchanged even today in the town of Lorsica.

Over the centuries there have been many inhabitants who have taken the sea route to seek their fortune in the Americas. According to some, Christopher Columbus himself owes his origins to the valley. There is a real emigration tradition from these places to the new continent. Many emigrants made their fortunes in the new world, as happened in the case of the illustrious banker Giannini, founder of the Bank of America and a native of Favale di Malvaro, home to the museum dedicated to him.

Scattered in the valley, next to the more frugal peasant dwellings, there are some frescoed villas and sometimes equipped with mirador, whose construction is due precisely to the remittances of the families who, from San Francisco, New York or Buenos Aires, have chosen to send part of their riches in their native places to build these pretentious mansions.

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