The annual festival to celebrate Pinocchio will return this weekend.
This festival is a lot of fun, something for everyone.
The Grotta del Vento, wind cave, is a cave in a mountain in Garfagnana, an area in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. It is near the towns of Fornovalasco and Vergemoli. (About 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca) The cave has 2 entrances, one at 642 metres above sea level and another on the other side of the mountain at 1400 metres.
It is a wind cave because air is able to blow through the cave from one entrance to the other. The direction of the wind depends on the temperature outside the cave. In summer, when the air outside is warmer, the air is drawn through the higher entrance and out of the lower entrance. In winter the reverse happens and the air flows upwards. If the temperature outside is the same as inside there is no wind. The temperature inside the cave stays at around 10.7degrees C all year. A heavy door has now been installed to stop the flow of air, but you can certainly feel it once the door is open.
The cave is open for visitors. There are 3 guided tours available. The first is the one I did. It takes about 1 hour and explores the part of the cave lined with limestone formations. Fascinating stalactites and stalagmites glisten as you walk along the narrow path which takes you deep into the cave.
Just for fun a large skeleton of a bear has been installed near the entrance.
Soon the door is opened and we enter the cave.
The narrow paths are lit and you can see the stalactites and stalagmites and pools of water. There are steps occasionally, but it is not too strenuous and there are hand rails for safety.
You can see some tiny ones beginning to form. It would be necessary to come back in a few hundred years to see much of a difference. Most take about 1000 years to grow 10 centimetres.
At one point the guide turns off the lights so that you can experience total darkness. It is quite an eerie feeling.
The second tour takes 2 hours and a descent is made into an area without limestone formations but interesting forms of erosion on the walls. The third one takes 3 hours in a vertical shaft which is climbed from the bottom to reach a final chamber at the top, followed by a short underground tunnel.
The cave was first discovered in 1989 by children exploring the area. The only one small enough to climb through the entrance was a 4 year old girl. The others opened the entrance a little, but were too frightened to go further than 20 metres into the cave.
The first expedition for research purposes was organised in 1929 by the Florentine Speleogical Grouo of the Italian Alpine Club which stopped at about 60 metres from the entrance by water.
The Bolognese Speleoligical Group got further in 1961 after a prolonged dry spell. Other expeditions followed until 1975 when the explorations extended to 2470 metres and the cave was opened to tourists. Now there are 4 galleries known with at least another 20 branches to be explored.
The guided tours are well organised and the guides are very knowledgeable. There is a shop and a restaurant nearby, so it would be easy to spend several hours here.
See more on the Grotta del Vento website…grottadelvento.com
David Collins has written part 2 of Buying and Restoring in Tuscany, an excellent guide for those looking to buy in this gorgeous part of the world.
There will be a book launch on September 8th in Lucca at Lucca Libri, Viale Regina Margherita 113. (Near the train station) It will begin at 5pm with an aperitivo. Come along to meet the author and hear all about the book.
Here is what to expect from the new book…
The second volume of this poular guide provides the reader with priceless information about searching for, and buying and restoring a property in Tuscany. It is packed with valuable tips and precious advice difficult to find elsewhere and is based on practical day-to-day experience of the author.
David shows us how to conduct a negotiation the “Italian way” or to quickly recognise a dwelling in disguise. The role and responsibility of the Italian notary is unveiled for the Anglo-Saxon world. We learn about the essential steps in managing a restoration project whilst revealing several tips.
He explains how earthquakes can affect older properties and unravels the complex laws in a simple and plain way for everyone to understand. The section on swimming pools makes you want to immediately go for a refreshing dip. The chapter on arches is both fascinating and insightful or the way he throws a sense of humour on malfunctioning septic tanks and suggestions for fixes.
David “the philosopher” reflects on why people move to Tuscany in the first place and how some end up living a full and wholesome life whilst others live in a bubble. Many essential taxation matters are revealed and the book wraps up with a very useful checklist of questions that everyone must have when viewing a property.
David has managed to provide us with a wealth of information deriving from his unsurpassed experience of working and living in Tuscany. This book is an absolute must before you depart on the Italian journey!
For those not able to attend the launch the book is available on Amazon.
Last weekend in Bagni di Lucca was the wonderful event, Shelley a Bagni di Lucca…la poesia e il ballo.
The event was attended by people in costumes of the period when the poet Shelley visited Bagni di Lucca. A crowd gathered at Villa Web and walked to various sites in the area. The photos below were taken by Rita Gualtieri.
There was a dance at the casino in Ponte a Serraglio in the evening.
Look at the Facebook pages of Marco Pistolozzi, Valerio Ceccarelli and Rita Gualtieri for some wonderful photos of the well dressed characters.
I think the enthusiasm the partipants bring to these events is great. I wish I had been there.
I often get comments on the blog and emails from people who have a connection with Bagni di Lucca. It is amazing the number of people all over the world who have ancestors who come from the area. It is a tiny place, but thousands of people have left Bagni di Lucca over the last couple of centuries and made new lives in far flung corners of the world.
Many people are keen to find out more about their Bagni di Lucca families. Ann Barsi, whose own family moved to USA, will be able to help some of those. She is holding an event on 11th September at Trattoria Santina in San Cassiano di Controne called “You know my Great-grandparents?”
She has carefully researched the church records of San Cassiano and will explain how the registers for the years 1600-1939 have been digitally imaged and then turned into family trees.
Here is an image of 4 baptisms from 1664/5.
This is the family group sheet for Giovanni Fabbri, born 20th October 1665.
If your ancestors are from San Cassiano di Controne there will be time to check the church’s database to see your family tree.
You will need to bring names and dates of your ancestors who were born before 1930. Many family trees go back 13 generations from today.
I’m sure it will be a fascinating evening.
“You know my Great-grandparents? (Conosci I miei Trisnonni?)
San Cassiano di Controne
11th September, 20.30 – 22.00
Ann previously completed the same research for the parish of Pieve di Controne and is currently working on the Monti di Villa parish.
Summer events continue…
On 1st September there will be a concert in the English Cemetery where the renovation of tombs and monuments continues.
Talk to the people at the information centre in La Villa for more information.
At the end of winter I visited the enchanted chestnut forest on the outskirts of Montefegatesi. See the post HERE. It looked stunning even then and I couldn’t wait to return in spring to see it green and lush.
The road into forest is delightful in spring with wild flowers lining the road.
There are a few reminders of the days when chestnuts were farmed seriously. It must have been a hard life, but the beautiful workplace would have helped the workers get through the day.
The trees are the stars on this drive, or even better, walk.
I’m sure the forest is a cool sanctuary in the heat of the summer.
I look forward to my autumn visit when I return later this year.