Pizza and more at dalle Padella alla Brace

The friendly man from Pio X at Bagni Caldi has opened a new restaurant at Chifenti.

We arrived early one evening and were the first there, giving us time to look around. It is bright and colourful inside and the pizza oven was burning brightly.

dalle Padella alla Brace

dalle Padella alla Brace

dalle Padella alla Brace

We were able to watch our pizza dough being prepared.

dalle Padella alla Brace

dalle Padella alla Brace

dalle Padella alla Brace

dalle Padella alla Brace

The pizzas were great. They have a thicker base than at other places in the area. I like both,  thick, and thin and crispy. Our toppings were delicious.

class Padella alla Brace

dalle Padella alla Brace

Next time I will try the pasta.

dalle Padella alla Brace

Via del Brennero, 15

Chifenti.

0583 1798188

dalle Padella alla Brace

Then and Now…Villa Ada

Villa Ada is the 16th century residence of the De’Nobili family. It is set in a beautiful park, which is still used occasionally for events such as the archery competition.

It is still possible to see how elegant it must have been with its lovely covered walkway down to the village. I can imagine what a cool, shady place it must have been on a hot summer day.

You can see Villa Ada in this 1905 photo of La Villa…it is just below the row of cypress trees on the hill.

La Villa

The photo below was taken in 1908.

Villa Ada

It was still looking good 1937.

Villa Ada

Villa Ada has belonged to the Comune since 1975. Work has been done to preserve it, but it needs new owners to love and care for it…any takers?

It looks OK from a distance, but as you get closer you can see that it is beginning to deteriorate.

Villa Ada

Villa Ada

Villa Ada

Villa Ada

The marble sculpture, The Nymph of the Spa and another statue were in the entrance, but the nymph now resides in the Comune building. I don’t know what happened to the other one.

The grounds must have been very beautiful. It wouldn’t take too much to restore the gardens.

Villa Ada

Villa Ada

Villa Ada

Villa Ada

Villa Ada

Bagni di Lucca is full of places like this. Is there anyone out there with lots of money?

Guest post by Belinda

Lovely Belinda, who is currently living at Ponte a Serraglio, has written a post for us about a walk she did in August with guides Franz Della Mea and Francesco Foschi. Francesco took the beautiful photos of the scenery along the way.

A long walk to Lago Nero…by Belinda

Luckily the August day we chose for our long walk to Lago Nero was not too hot. Our destination is quite high in the mountains so we had to be careful to dress appropriately, you can never be sure of the weather in the mountains and it can change suddenly.

Our journey began at the base of Prato Fiorito. I was promised a long walk and my guides certainly gave it to me. Our uphill walk lasted for 5 hours.

Lago Nero is close to Abetone and we passed gorgeous scenery along the way. Sometimes looking over the edge towards Orrido di Botri was a bit ‘hairy’.

Admiring the view

Admiring the view

The upward journey seemed endless at times, but we stopped often to take in the magnificent views and to eat our Mars bars for energy.

A standout tree

A standout tree

More stunning scenery

More stunning scenery

We finally reached Lago Nero. The lake definitely looks black…hence the name. We were very close to Abetone, in fact we could see the cable cars and ski run tracks.

Happily on a downhill bit towards the lake

Happily on a downhill bit towards the lake

The lake is small and at quite a high altitude, 1,730 metres elevation. It is in the Provence of Pistoia in northern Tuscany.

The lake comes into view

The lake comes into view

Beautiful Lago Nero

Beautiful Lago Nero

Guide number 3, Rino, cooling off in the lake

Guide number 3, Rino, cooling off in the lake

We really deserved our lunch at the rifugio where we dined on cheese, bread and red wine. These rifugios are dotted through the area and do a great job for a small donation.

After an hour rest we struggled to get our tired legs moving for the 4.5 hour return walk…the only way home.

On the way back to Prato Fiorito we took in different details of the landscape. For instance,the many variety of mushrooms and colours…and found it fun hunting down a bag full of the small bright yellow ones which are a flavoursome ingredient with the right pasta. We also noticed patches of ‘dug-up ground and rustled leaves, evidence of chingali, but luckily the wild boar were nowere to be seen in the daylight.

The 9.5 hour walk was a bit gruelling at times but fabulously rewarding. A return visit is in order for next summer.

There are lots of amazing walks in the mountains around Bagni di Lucca. I will tell you soon of some others I have done.

The slow bells

Slow bells toll when someone dies in our village. The bells ring to announce the funeral and when the body is taken from the church for the last journey.

The bells rang slowly recently for Oriana, one of the lovely old ladies who lived in Ponte a Serraglio. I met her soon after I arrived in the village. She was always ready with a smile and a chat.

She was part of a group of oldish ladies who would gather in the morning for coffee and a good old chinwag.  Several of them are still at the bar every day and there is a cheery “Buongiorno” for me. I haven’t seen Oriana for some time and it appears that she spent the last days of her life in hospital.

There used to be quite a large group of old gentlemen at the bar every morning where they would solve the problems of the world for a few hours, before strolling off home for lunch. This group has dwindled to two or three. I find it very sad to watch them grow old and then disappear one day.

I went to the church to farewell Oriana. She will be missed.

Oriana

I think it is a lovely tribute to a treasured member of the community. The slow bells allow time to think about the life that has been lived, and recall happy memories.

Flowers everywhere

On All Souls’ Day, November 2, Italians take flowers to cemeteries to honour their deceased relatives. Florists do a roaring trade and cemeteries come alive with people.

Far from being a gloomy event, it is quite festive. People dress up and stroll around looking at the graves. Cemeteries look beautiful with colourful flowers decorating the tombs. Graves are generally well kept anyway, but this is special.

All souls day

All Souls' day

All Souls' Day

 

All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day

All Souls's Day

All Souls' Day

This is a lovely tradition. How nice to think that someone cared enough to keep your grave clean and tidy and bring flowers sometimes.

Halloween

Halloween is a good excuse for a party. Annalisa threw a fun dress-up party at Bar Italia in Ponte a Serraglio.

Halloween Bar ItaliaThere was an interesting cast of characters.

Halloween Bar Italia

Please note the headless doll in the photo below.

Halloween Bar ItaliaHalloween Bar ItaliaHalloween Bar ItaliaHalloween Bar Italia

Later in the evening we headed off to Borgo a Mozzano for the famous party which ends in fireworks at the Ponte a Maddelena.

The streets were very crowded, the lighting patchy, so my photos mostly didn’t turn out well.

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

There were some great costumes. I was particularly impressed by a fellow with an axe through his head and several strings of sausages around his neck. No photos…he got away too quickly.

We shuffled along with the rest of the crowd towards the bridge at the appointed hour. As we arrived a figure swathed in white was being carried to the top of the bridge. Her head fell off on the way, appropriate under the circumstances. She was duly put back together and thrown off the bridge…a sign for the fireworks to get under way.

Halloween Borgo a Mizzano

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

The audience was enthralled.

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

I have been wanting to attend the celebrations at Borgo a Mozzano for many years. I have now done so and will be content with that one visit.

Marble beauty

In Villa Ada above La Villa there was a beautiful marble sculpture of a young woman. She is The Nymph of the Spas, carved from Carrara marble by Ferdinando Palla.

Villa Ada

Marble sculpture Villa Ada

The villa is very run down. Windows have been broken and there was a danger that the sculpture would be damaged.

She has been moved to the ground floor of the comune building in La Villa, making her much safer and more accessible.

Bagni di Lucca beauty

Bagni di Lucca beauty

BagnI di Lucca beauty

BagnI di Lucca beauty

Drop in next time you pass by and take a look.