Meet Emilio Ferrari from Colle

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.

looking towards Colle from my balcony

Colle in spring

looking up from Ponte a Serraglio

from the walking bridge

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’s house in Colle

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.

Alfa and Emilio

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 door to the old Comune

autumn at the Comune building

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.

a view from Colle

bee hives in Colle

snow on the mountains

an old house in Colle

an old wine press

Emilio’s family of cats

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.

the path to the top

the little house on the track to the top

Chiesina Alpini

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.

the view from Emilio’s house

my house beside the bridge

Alfa and Emilio

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.


an early morning winter view of Colle

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.


101 thoughts on “Meet Emilio Ferrari from Colle

  1. 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.

  2. 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? πŸ™‚

  3. 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…

      • 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…..)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Thanks for sharing this beautiful part of the world with us. Loved your photos! Congrats on being fresh pressed. Cheers, MoSop

  7. 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 ! πŸ™‚

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. “…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. πŸ™‚

  11. Photos of Italy is always charming…and the people you featured made it even more lovable! I pray I can go to Italy soon.

  12. 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.

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    • 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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