The village of Coreglia Antelminelli was founded during the High Middle Ages with the building of the fortress around which a small community started to grow.
At first Coreglia was a fiefdom of the lords of Loppia, the Rolandinghi, then it became a possession of the Republic of Lucca.
In 1316 it became a fiefdom of Castruccio Castracani, the great warlord and member of the Ghibelline party, who was in the same period the Lord of Lucca. In 1341 Coreglia was taken by Florence but in 1352, Francesco Castracani of the Antelminelli conquered the town. Under Francesco Castracani the village experienced its most glorious period. He enlarged the church, decorating it with famous artworks, and in 1355 gave himself the title “Count of Coreglia”. During the invasions of Florence he remained faithful to Lucca.
In 1562 his loyalty was rewarded: the Republic of Lucca established the Commissariato of Coreglia that turned into the current institution of the Comune (Municipality).
Inside the Palazzo Vanni there is the Museum of the Plaster Figurine and Emigration “G.Lera” where we can see, distributed on three floors, more than 800 examples of plasterwork, white or coloured, made by the many figurine makers of Coreglia, who were very skilled at creating these famous statuettes.
The activity was already well developed during the 17th century and it increased during the 18th century. Many families began to sell their works in the major Italian cities and then travelled on to Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, England and Sweden.
Before the emigration, the figurine makers had joined together in Companies, recruiting the young boys of Coreglia who had to sell the plaster figurines in the streets. The artworks in the museum come from the School of Drawing and Plastic Arts founded by Carlo Vanni and many families of the village in 1883.
In the museum we can see a big nativity from the end of the 19th century, many representations of cats of the 18th century coloured with candle smoke, nativity statuettes and many other examples of statues and figurines.
Moreover it is possible to see a collection of documents like passports, tickets and postcards, that belonged to the many emigrants who were forced to leave Coreglia to find their fortune abroad between 1880 and 1914.
In Coreglia there is not only the museum. The Church of St. Martin is absolutely worth a visit. It was built in the 9th century and inside it we can admire a Pietro Sorri Virgin of the Rosary painted in 1558.
Another significant monument is the medieval fortress, a large military building dating back to the Roman era. In St. Michael’s church , built next to the fortress and the tower, which was transformed into a bell tower in the 12th century, there is a beautiful pair of marble statues of the Blessed Virgin and the Angel of the Annunciation.