Ristorante Piazzangelio

One of our favourite restaurants in the area was Cappuccetto Rosso. We were not happy when they told us they were closing. They assured us they would reopen in a new location.

The new restaurant has opened in the historical centre of Barga. It is called Ristorante Piazzangelio, named after the Piazza where it is located.

The interior is elegant and inviting. (Valentina’s photo)

Lovely Valentina looked after us just as well as she did at the previous restaurant.

The food is excellent. We ordered shared plates of prosciutto and mozzarella with a delicious mint sauce.

The fish of the day was Branzino, Sea Bass. They had an enormous one, big enough for our party of 5.

Our desserts were great.

This was the winner.

We wish Valentina and Alfonso and the team the very best for their new venture.

Here is a photo of the official opening. Barga is lucky to have them.

Ristorante Piazzangelio

Phone…(39) 351 870 9234

San Cassiano walking path

On Saturday the Alta Via dei Pastori was opened. The walking path takes you from San Cassiano to Monte Prato Fiorito.

The mayor officially opened the path.

Aldo Lanini from Pegaso Trekking was the initiator and the one who brought together a group of people to organise the project.

San Cassiano di Controni was once the most populated of the Bagni di Lucca villages. It is the largest in area with several hamlets.

The information board tells the story.

This is a wonderful initiative. There are dozens of old mule trails between the villages of Bagni di Lucca. It is the perfect way to see this gorgeous area. I’m sure this new path will be put to good use.

Thank you Agostino for being there and taking the photos to share.

An afternoon well spent

We were invited by Federica and Alessandro from Amazing Lucca to join an afternoon walk through the tiny village of Gattaiola, just outside Lucca. We set off with a lovely couple from Moscow on a little adventure.

We began our walk at the ancient church at Gattaiola.

We followed a pretty path to one of the villas dating from the 16th century that are scattered along the winding paths. There were once 300 villas around Lucca. About 100 remain in various states of repair.

The first one we came to was well maintained with a lovely garden.

We walked past vineyards and old farmhouses.

The next villa was spectacular, Villa Rossi. It is privately owned but the first couple of floors are sometimes open to visitors. http://www.villarossilucca.it 

This gentleman had connections to Napoleon III and was an artist and sculptor.

The rooms are stunning…

…especially the ballroom and nearby rooms and bedrooms.

…and the lovely terrace, now enclosed.

The current owner is an author and her father was a partisan in WWII and was involved in politics after the war. Federica had lots of interesting information about the family.

We left via the garden, vacation apartments and the old front entrance.

A pretty road led back to the church.

There are many abandoned buildings, reminders of a busier time.

We got a fine view of Lucca.

It was a surprise to find an open area surrounded by a rocky cliff after a walk through the forest.

The rest of the party walked along the path to the top where they tried some olive oil…you can just see the olive trees growing at the top. Not being a fan of uphill walking I waited at the church.

Our final stop was a charming family owned vineyard and winery, Fratelli Urbani, begun in 1896 by Massimo Urbani. He was one of the first to bottle wine in the Lucca Province. http://www.fratelliurbani.com

We learned about the types of grapes and some of the family history from the delightful Francesca.

The vineyard is beautifully kept and there are gorgeous views of the countryside.

We went into the tiny cellar to learn more about the winemaking and the vineyard history.

Aperitivo with 2 types of wine and delicious antipasti followed.

A cold wind blew in and signalled the end of the visit.

Thank you Federica and Alessandro for inviting us to be part of your tour. I have lived near Lucca for almost 16 years and had no idea this lovely area was so close to the town. It is wonderful to discover hidden secrets.

Take a look at Amazing Lucca…Click the link…http://www.amazing-Lucca.com

Federica…(39) 338 7901829

Alessandro…(39) 3402 798654

As well as gentle, informative tours like this one, they can take you on an adventure tour in the nearby mountains.

The name Gattaiola is a bit odd. It translates in English as “cat door, or cat flap” but there is another explanation. It seems to have come from “grata aiola” which means fertile, prosperous soil. That makes much more sense.

Chestnut polenta

I have revisited Il Totto in Elio Sassi in nearby Garfagnana to enjoy their version of cucina povera again. The restaurant famously served chestnut polenta and ossi salati, which translates as salted bones.

Once most of the meat has been removed pork bones are soaked in brine for a few days then boiled.

Il Totto

There was a large table near us and their polenta was delivered on a board and cut using a special tool.

Il Totto

Il Totto

Il Totto

Il Totto

Il Totto

Il Totto

Il Totto

They serve other things as well. I had ravioli with ragu and fried chicken a rabbit…delicious.

It is a lovely drive up to Elio Sassi. The views are glorious from the village. I highly recommend a visit.