Bugnano, the abandoned village in Bagni di Lucca

Bugnano is a tiny collection of completely abandoned houses, just outside the village of Riolo. There is no sign to the village, just an overgrown track at a bend in the road.

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I have heard that the village was abandoned after WWII when the residents went off in search of a better life. A few years ago an English company planned to restore it and turn it into holiday accommodation, but their plans came to nothing. It may be too far gone now to do anything. The forest is taking over.

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It is quite sad to see these ruined houses. Somebody once loved them. Some touches of home remain.

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One house must have been very grand in its day.

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The kitchen sink is still there.

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And the place where the fireplace would have been.

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What must have been the living room has some frescoes remaining.

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The front room has great views over the mountains.

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Soon the forest may take over completely.

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Even the mushrooms growing near the big house look dark and sinister.

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Somebody has camped in one of the houses recently.

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Do you know anyone with lots of money and some imagination? Wouldn’t it be great to see the village live again?

Teri Giannetti has kindly sent some extra photos of Bugnano.

 

51 thoughts on “Bugnano, the abandoned village in Bagni di Lucca

  1. I have been hoping for that for many years. There actually were some residents living there when rumors of the grand plans for a resort started flying. The few remaining residents were bought out by the company who eventually realized the inpractical nature of their endeavor. Sad that they didn’t think in a less grandiose way and just set about restoring what was once a charming a medieval village. Perhaps a visionary with tons of cash will come along one day?

      • Dear Ms. Kolkka,
        I believe my father (who I never saw since three years old) left a home in Bugnano. I want to research this since I would inherit….I am an only child. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if I could get “the village started” again in my retirement age.
        Hope to hear from you.
        Teri Giannetti

      • You should start with the comune in Bagni di Lucca. The village was sold some time ago to a company who did nothing with it, so I don’t know how that would affect you. It would be great to see the village live again. I didn’t see all of it as I was unaware of the size of the village. I will go back early next year to find the rest of the buildings.

      • Thank you much for your ideas. I have family there and hope to visit next year. I will check things out and let you know if anything every becomes of it.
        Love what you are doing!!!!
        Teri

  2. My family used to live there before I was born and my sister in law family lived there, her father was the last person to leave the pleace in the 70’s. Actually the British company sold ti to a dutch company and they bought the last properties, but it seems to be only on hold……

  3. It is very sad, perhaps ITaly has so many treasures that it is impossible to save them all. I still wish that a project to restore the village will go ahead.

  4. Glad you could make it there Debra. It IS very sad to see Bugnano in its present condition. But, as mentioned above, there are so many deserted villages in Ital,y especially in remote areas of the south where there really IS very little money. The problem is that Tuscany is a relatively well-off area compared with other regions with the highest income from tourism. So if it can’t get together on Bugnano this bodes very badly for other regions. At the same time speculative (and all to often illegal) building is rampant in most parts of Italy. Why new build instead of historic restoration? I would also add that there is a second category of abandoned villages in this area,especially in Garfagnana – that is the “alpeggi” – villages that used to be occupied only in the summer by shepherds grazing their cattle in the high pastures. I have visited several of these practically all only reachable by often long trekking. Some of these villages still have little churches which are well-maintained thanks to still surviving religious feelings. I would hate to think what would happen if these religious feelings disappeared forever for they help to maintain some out-of-the way chapels and shrines even in our area. Incidentally, our present mayor of Bagni di Lucca, Dottor Betti, has set a fine example bybuying up and restoring the abandoned village of pian di Fiume. It is now thriving as a holiday destination and for hosting a variety events from feste to weddings.

  5. This was so interesting. I spent 2 weeks in Riolo this past June and I know the bend in the road well. I’m so sorry I didn’t know to take a walk down the pathway to Bugnano.

  6. I just spent absolutely ages reading your beautiful blog. I haven’t been around Tuscany at all and you just showed me what I am missing out on – I definitely will try to visit Bagni di Lucca the next time I go to Italy.

  7. buonanotte

    Sono dal Brasile e sto cercando di saperne di più della storia dei miei nonni e bisnonni e la mia famiglia in generale.
    Sono venuti in Brasile oara immigrazione e come io conosco sono i Bagni di Lucca, regione Bugnano’ll mettere un po ‘del mio albero che so

    Nonna – Settima Gianneti bernardi
    Bisnonno – Rinaldi Bernardi
    Nonno – Enrico Bernardi

    Mi chiedo se ho ancora parenti e come il blog dice loro residenza devono rimanere tali;
    César Augusto

  8. We have just come back from a short holiday in Riolo, which is a lovely place itself, although it felt a little like a ghost village, becuase there seemed to be only 2-3 houses occupied while we were there. We came upon Bugnano by chance and we were fascinated – it’s a bit like something out of an Indiana Jones film! I think the ruins are very romantic as they are, and exciting because you don’t know if you you might dislodge a wooden beam or a stone and have the whole lot fall on you (in the UK you would not be allowed near it!). Personally I like the ruins of Buganano as they are, but I am happy to see that some houses in Riolo are being restored, so that Riolo will not go the same way. Thank you Debra, we have really enjoyed reading your blog, with best wishes from Joanna and Austin Leask.

    • Just spent over a week in Riolo with my aunt in the home she was born. There were more people when we were there in early September. In fact, there was a festival one Saturday night and 180 came to celebrate..pizza and dessert! Truly glad Riolo is being rejuvenated.
      Bugnano was my father’s village. I went in (yes, you weren’t suppose to….) and took great pics. Someone teach me how to post on this site and I’ll share. Not on FB….Teri Giannetti

      • Hi Teri, I have just been contacted by a guy in Brazil who descends from Giannetti from Bugnano. Perhaps you can help him solve his ancestry questions. Cheers

      • teri, va bene, Io sono nipote italiana e vorrei sapere di più sulla mia famiglia.
        Vorrei sapere se qualcuno può aiutarmi a trovare PERSONE che possono far parte della mia famiglia.
        MIO NONNO E LA SUA FAMIGLIA è venuto fuori per il Brasile MA IMMIGRAZIONE. Metterò il nome di qualche ANZIANI sapere che HA FATTO PARTE DELLA MIA FAMIGLIA albero.

        NICOLE Gianetti PADRE DELLA NONA
        ADELIA Nicolli Gianetti – MADRE DEL NONO
        Fratelli della Nona
        AMATO Gianetti – CHICAGO
        PRIMA Gianetti
        GUIDO Gianetti
        PAOLINO
        MARIANA – CORDOBA ARGENTINA

        Il mio Bisa. Settima Gianetti Bernardi
        Il mio Biso Rinaldi Bernardi
        Mio nonno. Enrico Bernardi

        Essi risiedevano a Bagni di Lucca, Se qualcuno è a conoscenza della famiglia o Gianetti Bernardi mi consiglia di tenersi in contatto.
        grazie
        César Augusto Alves

    • Riolo is a lovely village and there are quite a few people living there. I’m sure it won’t become another Bugnano. Thank you Joanna and Austin for your kind comments.
      Thank you Teri for the extra photos of Bugnano.

  9. Pingback: The villages of Bagni di Lucca | Bella Bagni di Lucca

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  11. Visited about 15 years ago with Giovanni Giambastiani , Peter Donald and Robert McTavish , astounded with the Frescos and the mental picture of what the big house would look like in its prime . ( also seen our first Snake in the grassy surrounds ) remember seeing a number of old properties being renovated at the side of the river !

  12. Wonderful photos. I’ve been to riolo and fully missed the buildings. I wonder if your contributor Terry Giannetti is a relative of mine. My grandfather was Gregorio Giannetti and left for America in 1912. If so, pass on my contact information. Keep up the good work …great article.

  13. Terry may see this comment, I hope so. Some friends went to visit Bugnano a few days ago and found that there has been more disintegration.
    Thank you for your comments. I have been writing the blog for several years now.

  14. Hello Debra and “Buongiorno a tutti!”

    I am writing to say first of all how delighted I was to find your blog – it brings back so many wonderful memories.

    Secondly, I wanted to let you know more about what happened in the 1980’s with regards to the development of Bugnano, having met an estate agent in a local restaurant back then. We enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Bagni di Lucca, staying at the Albergo Bernabo, with its beautiful views over the river, enjoying delicious dinners at the restaurant down the hill, and buying enormous slices of panettone for breakfast from a very kind lady in the town. We made a visit to Bugnano when staying in Bagni di Lucca and absolutely fell in love with it. I remember being told there were 45 houses in total, plus a large villa and a ‘haunted house’! We have never forgotten our happy holiday in the area and wish to convey our very best regards, especially at these difficult times.

    As you can imagine, it must have been a very big project to take on and there was no proper road access to the site, which would have made things difficult. We heard that the developers had met with an architect, surveyor and the estate agent, and applied for planning permission from the mayor, but progress was very slow. Then a problem was discovered – one of the houses was still occupied and the owner would not sell. This was a big problem for the developers. However, the plans progressed and the architect and surveyor had to be paid for their work. All of this took several years! Then disaster struck: one of the developers was taken seriously ill, and was told to retire on health grounds. The estate agent, who kept in touch with us, managed to find a buyer for the village and I believe that company was the German-Swiss holiday resort company Hapimag, a well-regarded company who had already successfully developed some ancient farms in the area. I don’t know what happened after that, but I’m very sad to see that Bugnano is still in ruins, and hope that it can be saved. It’s a very special place, and I think it would be lovely for those who still have connections to the village. With very best wishes to you, and thank you for your wonderful work!

    • Thank you for the story of Bugnano. I had heard there was an attempt to buy the village and restore it, but not the whole story.
      I think it is now too far gone to restore, which is a pity. I hate to see these villages die.
      I hope you come back one day.
      I have another blog called Bagni di Lucca and Beyond which covers my travel, mostly in Italy.

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