Finally, a clean up

The Ponte della Maddalena is the most recognisable structure in our area. It is a 900 year old treasure.

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It is possible to see in this photo some of the build up of debris on the buttresses of the  bridge. We have had lots of rain over the last 12 months and the river has been carrying lots of rubbish along with it and quite a bit has gathered around the base of the bridge.

Finally, the clean up has begun. The river has been diverted and the tree branches and other bits and pieces are being removed.

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It is good to see the Ponte della Maddalena being looked after. I never tire of looking at this amazing bridge every time I pass. I often stop and walk across and enjoy the view from the top as well. Let’s hope it is here for another 900 years.

Francis has written about the clean up too on his blog. Click here to see his report.

The azalea festival at Borgo a Mozzano

Every year, on a day in April, Borgo a Mozzano’s streets are filled with azaleas…a great time to visit this quaint nearby town. It wasn’t the best day with overcast skies and threatening rain, but I went anyway.

There were displays in the streets.

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…lots of flowers for sale. Some of the rhododendrons will be living under the hazelnut trees at Casa Debbio.

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Of course there was food for sale.

…and other things to buy.

The pool and surrounds in Borgo are looking great.

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The pruned trees on the main street are springing to life.

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On the way home I stopped on the Borgo side of the river for a different view of the Ponte della Maddelena. Even on an overcast day the bridge looks great.

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The mechanical cow

I prefer my milk straight from the cow. When I was a child a local dairy farmer delivered fresh milk to us in a bucket. He poured the milk into bowl and when it had settled Mum would spoon the cream off the top and pour it into bottles.

I can still remember the taste…a far cry from the stuff we buy at the supermarket now. It is pasteurised, homogenised, skimmed, vitamins added etc, etc, and it no longer tastes like milk.

Luckily there is a place nearby where it is possible to buy milk straight from the dairy…the mechanical cow, or latteria as it is called.

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The little hut is in the car park at the Penny Market in Borgo a Mozzano.

For 20 cents you can buy a bottle and €1 gets you a litre of fresh milk.

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There is even a photo of the dairies the milk comes from.

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I think it is a great idea and I have become a regular at the mechanical cow.

Wild weather

We have had some very wild weather in Bagni di Lucca and the mountains around us. On Sunday night there was an enormous storm which dumped heavy rain on the area. Roads have been closed, and some are still closed. There has been damage to property and some villages remain cut off from main roads.

There was another smaller storm last night, but I haven’t heard of any further damage. The sun has appeared today. With a bit of luck it will stick around for a while.

Here are a few pictures of the muddy river in Ponte a Serraglio.

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The river looked a bit more calm today. It is still high, but it is not rushing past so quickly.

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The road to Lucca is cut past Borgo a Mozzano. Until yesterday it was cut from Chifenti as water had flooded the road to Ponte a Maddalena. It was open today so I went to the bridge to take a look at the river from there.

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You can see how high the river is in the following photo. It is right at the top of the weir.

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I walked to the top of the bridge. Two days ago there was a metre of water covering the road below and in the shops and houses beside the road.

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If you go to YouTube and look for Serchio in Piena there are several videos of the damaging floods.

I hope the people who have suffered damage get back to normal soon.

San Bartolomeo…a beautiful old church

Our lovely friend Agostino took us for a drive to Cune, a gorgeous village above Borgo a Mozzano, just a few kilometres from Bagni di Lucca.

We drove through olive trees and grapevines and then through wonderful chestnut forests on our way past Cune and up the hill to the Chiesa and Romitorio di San Bartolomeo. It was a misty, rainy day, which made the drive even more beautiful.

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We parked the car beside the road and walked a small distance to the collection of ancient buildings.

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The stone buildings are well preserved and the area is well tended. The church was begun in the 12th century and completed in the 12th or 13th century with the addition of an apse.

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This doorway is tiny.

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There is an old oven in one of the buildings.

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…and some interesting old stones.

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Mushrooms are growing well near the buildings. The first one was enormous and seemed to be growing from the side of a building. The others were a normal size.

Further up the mountain are the remains of an old signal tower, called “The eye of Lucca”. It was an early warning system for the area. On a fine day we will investigate.

On the way home we had an excellent view of the Ponte Maddalena from above.

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There is a never ending supply of fascinating things to discover in the Bagni di Lucca area.

Thank you Agostino for a great day.

Ponte della Maddalena…..Devil’s Bridge

Ponte Maddalena

While this gorgeous bridge is not actually in Bagni di Lucca it is synonymous with the area, and a perfect introduction to our villages . The very beautiful Ponte Diavolo crosses the Serchio river at Borgo a Mozzano, just 4 kilometres before Bagni di Lucca.

The bridge was thought to be commissioned by the Countess Matilda of Tuscany around 1080 – 1100 to enable people to cross the Serchio and get access to the spas in Bagno di Corsena, as Bagni di Lucca was then called.

The name Ponte Maddalena comes from a life size image of Maddalena, a painting from the Della Robbia school, which was in an oratory at the foot of the bridge. You can now see it in the Church of S. Jacopo in Borgo a Mozzano.

The bridge’s more popular name, Devil’s Bridge, comes from the legend from the time of Saint Julian, the protector of travellers. The devil was asked for help to construct the bridge and in return he was offered the soul of whoever crossed the bridge first. Saint Julian arranged for a dog to cross the bridge for the first time.

In 1836 a flood damaged the bridge and it required significant repairs. An extra arch was added in the early 1900s to make more room for a surfaced roadway.

spring at Ponte della Maddalena

beside the bridge

a perfect reflection

the main arch is 18.5 metres high

looking down from the top

looking towards Bagni di Lucca

from the top

a perfect spring day

looking towards Borgo a Mozzano

the beautiful Serchio valley

Lucky for us it is still intact and it is possible to walk across the bridge and to admire the excellent view from the highest arch.

The bridge takes on a completely different look in winter. I think it looked wonderful in 2011 with the huge flag put there to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

a rainy day at Ponte della Maddalena

even the ducks are impressed

There is a car park beside the bridge to allow you to stop for a while. I tried walking there from Bagni di Lucca once, but that was a bit scary. There is no footpath and the road is narrow and I was shouted at by drivers. There is a bus stop there, so if you can coordinate the buses, that would be an option. Walking from Borgo a Mozzano is a bit less dramatic.

I think the perfect solution would be a footpath constructed beside the road, over the river, which would give excellent pedestrian access…… is anyone listening?