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.
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.
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?