To begin my quest to visit and photograph the villages that make up Bagni di Lucca, I decided the first should be Colle. I’m not sure that Colle is actually a village. It is a delightful collection of houses that I can see on the hill directly in front of my house. It always looks beautiful and I have walked there many times.
I wanted to know a bit more about Colle apart from what I had discovered myself and it was suggested that I talk to Emilio Ferrari, who was born in Colle 80 years ago. Emilio and his lovely wife Alfa kindly invited me into their home and were happy to talk about their lives in the village. Before I go on, don’t you just love the name Emilio Ferrari, and what of the chances of a Ferrari marrying an Alfa???? And they drive a Fiat.
Emilio told me that Colle is actually the oldest part of Bagni di Lucca. There used to be a castle on top of the hill just past houses that are there now. It was owned by a count and everybody living in the surrounding area worked for him, cultivating the land on the hill leading down to the Lima valley. Later on the city of Lucca had the castle destroyed to prevent it falling into the hands of Federico Barbarossa who was fighting in Italy in the 1100s.
The little village survived and the people living there grew grapevines all over the hillsides. The hills were terraced and vegetables were grown as well. Sheep, goats and cattle were kept for their milk and to provide meat. Now there are only a few vineyards left, one of which belongs to Emilio, the one I can see from my house.
Emilio was born in the house where he lives today. He left Italy in 1951 to work in Brazil. He recalls have to pay a sum of money as a guarantee that he would not run off to Florida, a popular place for young Italians at the time. He also spent time working in France. He eventually returned to Colle and married Alfa, a local girl from a little further down the hill. They have been married for 44 years and have 2 adult children.
There are only about dozen people living in Colle now and it is difficult to believe that it was once the hub of what is now Bagni di Lucca. The building next door to Emilio once housed the Comune office.
The walk up to Colle is quite steep, especially the last bit, but the views make the trek worthwhile. There are magnificent views of the mountains and the Lima valley below.
If you keep walking through the village there is a path which takes you to the top of the hill, where there is a picnic ground and a monument to the Alpini soldiers.
After climbing to the top you will need to retrace your steps back to the village.
The best views of all are from Emilio’s balcony.
To walk to Colle from Ponte a Serraglio, take the road between the post office and the Bridge Hotel and head towards Bagni Caldi, keep going uphill and follow the signs. The road to the top is surrounded by chestnut trees and the walk is lovely. There is a path on the other side of the hill that takes you down to La Villa.
I like to walk to Colle on misty winter mornings.
Emilio is often at Il Monaco in Ponte a Serraglio, where he likes to have his morning coffee. Say hello if you see him, he likes a chat.
Fascinating post Debra. Like you I love the walk through Colle and to the Alpini church. I adore that little ruin of a house on the track that you’ve pictured and so want to buy it, I think the view from it must be amazing.
I want that house! I have been keeping an eye on it for years.
Fantastic pictures and report Debra, congratulations. Ilario
Thank you. Emilio is really interesting to talk to.
That was a cozy and interesting post. Made me feel good to read it. I love the way you notice each detail and show it in pictures. I must have a chat with Emilio since he lived in Brazil. Maybe he can still remember some Portuguese? 🙂
Look for him in the bar in the mornings. I’m sure he would love to talk to you.
Great story, Debra. Colle’s full name is Colle di Corsena, as Corsena was the original name for the area, or Bagni di Corsena… to be precise and the Colle area is one of the oldest to be inhabited. San Pietro in Corsena, a beautiful romantic church, is the oldest in the area. Possibly, the castle really existed and it was inhabited by a Lombard count, an ancestor of either the Porcaresi or Lucchesi families who inherited what was a feud.
I would love to talk to Emilio when I get there… You know how much I love history…
I knew that Corsena was the oldest part of Bagni di Lucca, but I hadn’t realized that Colle was involved. It makes sense as it is the highest part of this area.
Just as you said, Debra. In the old times, people liked to live in the highest areas, as they provided a better protection (at least they could see the ennemies coming…..)
So beautiful! I know it’s the wrong country but it reminds me of A Year in Provance. Did you watch that? Hilarious! (the book too)
I didn’t see it, perhaps I should.
What a beautiful couple Debra. The purple door on the farmhouse is superb. It seems to recall the colour of the mountains.
I love the colour of the door.
Fantastic pictures! Ah, I’m dreaming about a trip to Italy now.. 🙂
Bagni di Lucca is a beautiful part of Italy.
Awesome post — I think Alfa and Emilio are cuter than cute! And your pix are simply stunning…
I am in a very beautiful part of the world.
how about a map showing where this is in relation to all of italy?
let me know when you get to santo menna.
Bagni di Lucca is in northern Tuscany, between Lucca and Pisa and Florence.
do you think that most people know where those places are? a map would be cool.
Pisa is very well known I think because of the Leaning Tower. Perhaps you should Google it.
Beautiful. The views reminded me of Sikkim…a north-eastern state of India and hence, brought back some memories of when I visited there. I would love to visit Colle one day on my dream excursion round the world.
Thank You for this light and sweet post. A smile automatically sprung up on my lips reading this post.
I see Emilio most mornings in the bar for coffee. He will be thrilled that he will be so well known.
And that is the best part… 🙂
Outstanding … and a reminder of the area of my paternal grandparents.
Bagni di Lucca is a beautiful part of the world.
Visit San Cassiano di Controne
I’ve been to San Cassiano several times to the restaurant there, which is very good. I am waiting until spring is a little further advanced and then I will be back.
Thanks for the recommendation!
I want to hang out with Alfa and Emilio!
Come and visit us in Bagni di Lucca.
such a wonderful looking little place, its going onto my list of places to visit
There is a lot to see and do in our area. Take a look at some of the other posts on my new blog.
i definitely will
Wow !! The village looks beautiful !! Gr8 post !! Cheers
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We have more than 25 villages in the mountains around us. I am hoping to photograph all of them.
I would love to one day visit Italy. What a beautiful country. Thanks for sharing the photos. Connie
Italy is a wonderful place to visit.
What an enchanting post. The photographs makes it seem like a place of fairy tales.
Our village is very beautiful, sometimes it doesn’t seem quite real to me because it is different from where I grew up.
Congratulations dear Debra. As always it was one of your beautiful posts… I am so glad as you. Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia
Thank you! It is fun to be Freshly Pressed.
Emilio’s balcony must be the best location in the entire region…. stunning views!
I think you could be right about the view. I want to go back when everything turns green.
Davvero un bellissimo blog. Le foto sono straordinarie. Complimenti per l’ottimo lavoro. Alla prima occasione visiterò il paese. Cari saluti dal Veneto!
Grazie!! Mi piace il Veneto anche.
Sei molto fortunato di abitare li 🙂
I am so jealous 🙂 I can’t wait to read more about your adventures in Italy!
I am very lucky to be able to spend several months a year here. You should look at Bagni di Lucca and Beyond as well.
“hi Emilio, I am Emilie!!!”
nice photos,,its very rustic to me, beautiful!!
You have a lovely name!
what a stunning post! thanks for sharing– i’d love to visit and chat with emilio!
You should come to Ponte a Serraglio in the morning and have a chat with Emilio at the bar.
if only i didn’t live in canada… one day, i’ll do it, though. yay!
Canada is beautiful! We loved it there. Hopefully you will come to Italy one day.
u have a very special viewpoint to the world. i like your taste.
Thank you. I hope you come back to the blog sometimes.
I will pass that on to Emilio.
That was so lovely. I’ve only traveled in the southern half of Tuscany (though I’d love to go to Lucca) but I’ve seen a couple of little towns like that that are still beautiful and in perfect condition but have tiny populations now– made me so nostalgic to see this one. Thank you.
Lucca is gorgeous, it is one of my favourite places in Italy. It is wonderful that these little villages still exit. There are posts on Lucca on my other blog Bagni di Lucca and Beyond.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful part of the world with us. Loved your photos! Congrats on being fresh pressed. Cheers, MoSop
Thank you for visiting. Freshly Pressed is fun!
I like the things that we cant take at urban cities and villeges give us more peaceful beautiful landscape better, I believe. The photos are nice ! 🙂
Thank you. Our area is very beautiful.
lovely post.. i love emilio’s cats, they all look adorable.. i was smiling the whole time i was reading your post.. his wife’s name is alfa (reminds me of the alfa romeo car) and emilio’s surname is ferrari (that’s another fast car).. ALFA FERRARI, that’s a great name.. congrats on being FP.
I think their names are wonderful too.
Love the cats by the old green painted door. I have a picture I treasure of a black cat sitting in front of a green door, with lace-curtained windows beside it, taken in Buggiano Castello. Ah, Italy. I long to go back!
Italy is worth the hours to get here every time.
What a glorious place to live and how well you capture it! I know a little of Lucca but not the surrounds. Thanks for a great read.
We have been coming to Bagni di Lucca for 9 years and we love it more all the time.
Sorry I assumed it was home? I feel much the same about our place in the quiet Eastern Algarve.
I live half the year in Brisbane, Australia and half in Bagni di Lucca, perfect really.
Sounds wonderful- I like what I’ve seen and read about Brisbane too.
Fantastic shots. I wish I could be there in Italy once. Thanks for sharing buddy.
Italy is a beautiful country to visit. I hope you come at least once.
That walking bridge looks incredible! Great pics.
The bridge is wonderful, we love it.
thank you for bringing your lovely h
Thank you for visiting, I hope you come again.
What a stunning place in which to live. You, Alfa, Emilio and others are so lucky!
Bagni di Lucca is a great place to be, you should come to visit.
Wish I could! Maybe one day….
What a beautiful place! I especially loved the cat photo
The cats love Emilio’s front steps.
Reblogged this on Italian Heritage Club.
“…what of the chances of a Ferrari marrying an Alfa????” ~ that’s exactly what I was thinking!! Haha!
What an incredible place to visit…hoping to get there myself someday. 🙂
And they drive a Fiat!!!!
Photos of Italy is always charming…and the people you featured made it even more lovable! I pray I can go to Italy soon.
I love the time I spend in Italy.
Wonderful post as usual, Debra. It was nice to read about Emilio and Alfa and their long life together as a married couple. We don’t hear enough stories like these anymore, heart warming.
Emilio is lovely and was very happy to hear that he had been Freshly Pressed.
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Lovely, lovely post Deb.
Emelio and his wife were delightful. Alpha is not often at the bar, but Emelio is there most mornings for a chat. I can see their house from my apartment and it always looks wonderful up there.
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Wonderful photos, and story, Debra. What a big family of cats, Emilio and his wife have. 🙂
Cats are very popular in the villages as they keep mice away.