Beauty in Decay: Garfagnana Doors

Our love of crumbling architecture – another way of saying ruins – is the central theme of the 1953 classic book The Pleasure of Ruins by Rose Macaulay. Macaulay charts this concept from its rise in the Renaissance to its decline in the early part of the 20th century. However, this ‘beauty in decay’ is still alive today and quite possibly on the rise again. Just take a look at the work of contemporary photographers Christian Richter, Romain Veillon, Niki Feijen and many others who focus on spectacular abandoned buildings.

With that in mind, I happened to spot in nearly every village we visited in Garfagnana (Northern Tuscany) lovely old, dilapidated doors. It combines two passions of mine – ruins and doors. There is an aesthetic appeal in scruffy, scarred door panels, peeling or faded paint and rough textures. Elegantly carved lintels, arched surrounds and metal door furniture (knockers, grates, hinges and such), often showing signs of rust and weathering, add to the charm.

Two doors from the beautiful hilltop town of Barga, both of which have nicely carved stone surrounds befitting the high status of the town. The first gouged and worn door has applied plywood kick boards and the second had mottled shades of green fading paint.



An equally elegant door with flaking blue paint from the village of Sillico.


A weathered door and door surround from the central town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana on a wet dreary market day.


Two rustic doors from the village of Verni in the hills just west of Gallicano.



A very old stone door lintel carved with the date 1578 and the tattered remains of a door (though certainly not as old) holding back the rubble inside an abandonded house at Isola Santa.


I couldn’t help but conclude with this detail of an old door in Lucca. Technically not in Garfagnana, Lucca is the centre of the province that includes the region. Much of Garfagnana’s history is tied to this northern Tuscan town. A rusty lion knocker on a battered door, taken in the evening of the festival of the Luminaria. 


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More links:

More photographs of Garfagnana doors can be found in Debra Kolkka’s blog Bella Bagni di Lucca in posts on her ramblings in nearby villages. Just search for ‘doors’ on the blog and a list of posts will come up. Look out for one post in particular, David’s Doors.

Norm’s blog has a place for all door lovers – wherever those doors may be -in his weekly posts Thursday Doors. Although, not all of the doors here are ‘decayed’. Just link up to join in.

A brilliant article on the phenomenon of ruins can be found in The Guardian newspaper from 2012: Ruin Lust: Our Love Affair with Decaying Buildings.

Rose Macaulay’s The Pleasure of Ruins is availble for free download from Internet Archive.



    • I fell in love with Rose Macaulay’s book back in University. It has always stayed with me, although it has been a long time since I sat down and read it. Perhaps you will soon be exploring the area (again) as well. Sad that we are about to leave!

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  1. Absolutely beautiful doors.! Did you ever see Porte Grecque, published in the early 80’s and reissued a short while ago? Tinos has wonderful doors and many are featured in the book. Thank-you, Debi.


    • Thursday Doors was new to me, too. Two blogs that I’ve recently started following mentioned it. I may not contribute regularly, but I now know there is an avenue for posting photos of interesting doors. Looking forward to seeing your doors!


  2. Welcome to #ThursdayDoors and thanks for joining us this week πŸ™‚
    What a wonderful post full of beautiful old doors – so glad you found us. Cheers!


  3. Wonderful photos of lovely scruffy doors, Debi. The faded blue doors are my favorites. I love the rusty Lion knocker as well. Many thanks for the referral to my blog! I look forward to checking out the links you provided.

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    • Glad that I could direct interested readers to your blog. I love the doors here, but then I’ve always been drawn to scruffy old doors in Greece as well. Loved that old lion knocker and the evening light was just right. Had to find a way to include him!

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  4. These ancient doors are magical Deb. I really love door furniture too. Knockers are a fave thing. We were in Tasmania a few years back staying at an old inn. We were sleeping in the old stables. Omg sooo cold. The knocker was a bronze fox. Gorgeous. You never know where an old door will lead you:)

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