Pre-Alpine garnets of Variscan age from metapelitic basement units in Northern Italy were strongly retrogressed at near-surface conditions prior to Alpine contact metamorphism. The replacement by sheet silicates caused a significant volume increase during retrogression, producing pervasive fracturing. Up to several hundreds of angular fragments formed from each crystal. Electron backscatter diffraction analysis documents a maximum misorientation of ~22° of some fragments as a result of local rotation during fracturing. New garnet growth is observed on the garnet fragments during contact metamorphic overprinting, resulting in garnet clusters. Fragments can be identified due to calcium-rich domains. Fragment orientations were inherited, and only minor new nucleation occurred. These garnets develop features typically associated with multiple nucleation models, but here they reflect multiple metamorphic events. We propose that clusters can be indicative of multiple metamorphic events, which were separated by a period of intense retrograde alteration.