A determined bird

If you look closely in the photo of the waterfall in the river at Ponte a Serraglio you will see a seagull. I watched this bird over several days and he always appeared in the same spot on a ledge in the middle of the overflow.


He is clearly standing there waiting for a fish to come hurtling through the water towards him. It must work because it is his regular place.






20140824-065112.jpgIt seems odd to see seagulls in a mountain village, but the sea is quite close as the crow, or in this case, the seagull, flies.

Our ducks seem to be disappearing slowly, but the seagulls are always on the river.

Eremo di Calomini



This beautiful white sanctuary set into the edge of a rocky cliff just past Gallicano, has been around since about 1,000AD. The church is carved into the rock and has been expanded over the centuries to include the presbytery and the sacristy. The double colonnaded facade was added in the 18th century.

The Calomini hermits took care of the sanctuary until 1868 and now it is in the care of the Lucca Capuchin Fathers. They have done a great job… take a look.




The wooden doors are beautifully carved.




The interior is beautiful.







You can clearly see that the church has been carved into the rock.




The view from the front of the hermitage is wonderful.


To get to the Hermitage, take the road to Gallicano, then look for the signs to Vergemoli and La Grotta del Vento. The sign for the Hermitage is about 1 kilometre past the end of Gallicano. It is not always open, so it is a good idea to phone ahead. 39 0583 767003.

There is a parking area beside the sanctuary. Look for the excellent restaurant just a short walk from the parking area where they serve delicious meals, especially local trout.



Local news…

There will be a celebration on Saturday 23rd August for the conclusion of the exhibition of textiles, Nodi della Memoria, at the Casino in Ponte a Serraglio. Fesivities begin at  17.00 with the opening of the exhibition; at 21.00 there will be a shop and at 22.30 there will be music and refreshments on the terrace.

To book, please phone Tina: 0583 805815 (9.00 – 12.00) or Gemma: 349 8499704


Osteria al Ritrovo del Platano

This is a great place to eat not far from Bagni di Lucca, on the way to Castelnuovo. Osteria al Ritrovo del Platano is a Slow Food restaurant at Ponte di Campio. The chef is Mauro Bertolini and he prides himself on providing delicious local food in season…special tastes of the Garfagnana. The food is both traditional and innovative.

I discovered it one wet, cold day on my way to Castelnuovo. The entrance doesn’t really give any idea of what you will find inside. The restaurant is quite large and well set out.



The workman’s lunch is one of the best in the area, and amazing value at 10 euro.


I ordered the pasta arrabbiata, fried trout and peperonata.








I didn’t leave much.


There were some very delicious looking desserts available, but I couldn’t fit anything else in, so I just had a coffee.


I have been back for dinner, which is also excellent. The prices are a little higher, but worth every centesimo.

There is a small parking area on the side of the road on the Gallicano side of the restaurant.


Pieve di Controne

Pieve di Controne is a small village in a beautiful rural setting in the Controneria area. It is 565 metres above sea level and 8 kilometres from the centre of Bagni di Lucca.

From the main road from La Villa towards San Cassiano, take the road through San Gemignano. From there you will drive through a pretty forest for one kilometre until you reach Pieve di Controne.



The parish church is dedicated to San Giovanni Battista. It was previously the church of Santo Stefano which was mentioned in a parchment in 884 AD. It was one of 28 churches founded by San Frediano.


In the 14th century there was a landslide which ruined the entrance, so another was built on the other side. Both facades are visible today, making the church very interesting indeed. It was not open the day I was there. I will return to see the stone font and the organ built in 1773 by Michelangelo Crudelli.

The bell tower was built in the 19th century and has the largest bells in the territory of Bagni di Lucca.

Few people live in Pieve di Controne today. The lucky ones who make it home have some of the best views in the area. There are lovely gardens and areas of cultivation. Come for a walk with me through the village.

I visited Pieve di Controne in late spring. I’m sure it would just as lovely in other seasons, especially autumn when the chestnut trees turn golden…I will be back.

Hands on art at Ponte a Serraglio

In collaboration with Home of Artisans and British artist Carol Newmarch, there was a demonstration of pottery making in Ponte Serraglio as part of the Art Festival. The street was closed and the crowds gathered for a fun and informative display.

The Art Festival is going from strength to strength and it is great to see lots of interest from locals and visitors alike.







Thank you Belinda from Home of Artisans for sharing the photos with us.

I hope you will all drop into Belinda’s gallery to see all of the lovely things created by artists from all over the world.