I recently received a comment on a post I wrote in 2013 about Arte Barsanti, a local company that still makes plaster of paris figurines in the same way as they have been made in the area for centuries.
The comment was made by a man from USA. He says that his father was born in Riolo and went to America as a 14 year old boy and worked for people who came from Bagni di Lucca making the figurines. He later founded his own business which his sons now operate.
I started the first blog, Bagni di Lucca and Beyond, to inform our friends who came to the village about where to go and what to see. It grew to include all my travels, so I started Bella Bagni di Lucca to share only stories and photos of the villages that make up Bagni di Lucca.
An unexpected and delightful thing about writing the blogs has been comments such as the one mentioned. It is quite amazing how many people around the world have a connection with Bagni di Lucca.
I have received dozens of comments on the blogs and emails from people who have told me that their grandparents lived in one of the houses I have photographed, or that they remember playing in a tiny street in one of the villages, or they have heard their families talk about Bagni di Lucca.
People have told me that they have come to Bagni di Lucca because of what I write about the villages. Some have liked the place so much that they have returned several times. Some have even gone on to buy property in the area.
Fellow Bagni di Lucca blogger, Francis of From London to Longoio, has just done a post along the same lines.
Writing a blog takes quite a bit of time, but it is all worthwhile when we receive these wonderful comments from people with an interest in Bagni di Lucca.
Thank you to all those who follow the blog and take the time to share thoughts.
Click here to see the post on Arte Barsanti.
It’s feedback like that that makes all the hard work worthwhile isn’t it, Deb? How nice for you – and for your readers! 🙂 xxx
It is the wonderful comments that make blogging worthwhile. I don’t think anyone would bother to keep going without them.
Lovely post. Thanks for introducing me to blogging!
It was a pleasure Francis. It is fun to share Bagni di Lucca with the world.
How good is that? And you have made some marvellous friends as well
I have met lots of people through the blog, an unexpected outcome.
Debra,thank you for your blog.i keep up with it regularly.My grandfather,Orlando Ricci, was from pieve di monte di villa and in the late !800’s at 15 years old was in Nebraska with a group from the Pieve making and selling plaster figurines.From what I have been able to determi
ne multiple groups such as these went all over the world in this period.
As I said, it is amazing how such a tiny village as Bagni Di Lucca sent so many of its citizens around the world to carry on its traditions. Thank you for following the blog and taking the time to share your family history. Many people who left were scarcely more than children. It must have been a grand adventure for them.
Debra, quite possibly this man from Riolo worked for the Barsanti’s cousins who live in the San Francisco area. I know that they used to make figurines in America. If I am not wrong, they currently produce garden ornaments. As you see, it is a small world! But the important thing is that your blog is putting Bagni di Lucca on the map and acting as a link between people.
You can see the full comment on the Arte Barsanti post. They now make surrounds for fireplaces, using techniques learned when making the figurines. I love to get comments, particularly from people who have a connection with the villages.
It must have been a thrill to receive the comment from Bob. The Arte Barsanti figurines are quite lovely and the museum is fascinating. If that is Simone’s great grandfather’s passport photo – I think Simone looks very much like him. It is a worry to think these lovely pieces will no longer be made when Simone retires and the little museum which is such a lovely window into the past, will possibly not be preserved. It does sometimes seem that we are living in a world that is mass produced in China and so many things have only passing value.
I hope somebody carries on the tradition. It would be a shame to lose it from Bagni di Lucca when it played such an important role.
Please keep writing and posting your lovely photos! We visited Garfagnana last September and saw many of the places you posted about. We’re now planning our return visit since we loved the area so much. Wishing you a very Happy New Year.
Happy New Year to you. I hope we meet in Bagni di Lucca one day soon. Thank you for following the blog.
The Barsantis sent me this video showing their latest nativity scene. I have seen them working on this special display which covers a big area in their workshop. It has taken a lot of imagination and effort to complete it, but it has really been worthwhile. Enjoy!
This is amazing. Is it going to be on display somewhere where people can see it?
Good heavens, that is an amazing oiece of work”
My father and his brother were also typical of young men who left the region and opened plaster of paris businesses in the US and other countries. My grandfather on my mother’s side did the same thing a generation earlier. When my father arrived here in Philadelphia he found many groups of men from the Bagni di Lucca area who lived in boarding houses and worked in various figurine factories. My father was lucky enough to eventually build his business into a wholesale manufacturer of lamps and figurines. Most of these companies, like Barsanti and Pieri, my father, managed to stay connected at various exhibitions and such. You will find examples of these artisans and businessmen throughout the US and all over the world.
Thankfully,, I have been lucky enough to keep the friendship going through the Ricci family in Pieve di Monti di Villa. I have also had the pleasure of some correspondence with Mary Simonetti throughout the years.
The story of the figurinai who left the Bagni di Lucca area in search of success in other parts of the world, is a fascinating one. These young men left everything they knew and made great sacrifices in search of a better life. There is a great little museum in Coreglia Anteminelli that contains some lovely examples of their work.
Thank you for telling your story Diane. It is truly amazing how many people from Bagni Di Lucca have made their mark on the world. My grandfather set off from Finland in 1912 as a young man and sailed for Australia. I think these people were incredibly brave to go to a new country with nothing but their skills to set up a new life.
I will go to Coreglia Anteminelli to see the museum. There should be a museum and a place where people can buy the figurines in Bagni Di Lucca.
Deb It was your blog that introduced me to Bagni di Lucca and to you. That is why I visited Bdl and stayed for 4 weeks and why I hope to return again soon. I can see why you write about the area. I knew l loved the area before I visited. So thank you for such a lovely blog. And yes Deb. There is a lot of work that goes into a blog.
Thank you for your comment. I think it is great that the blog encourages people to visit Bagni di Lucca. I love the area and think it has lots to offer visitors. I can’t wait to get back.
I enjoy your blogs and the wonderful photo’s which have been much commented upon.
The blogs have also introduced some of us to Francis Pettitt’s blog. Between the two of you (and the three blogs!), those of us who love BDL and Italy in general get to see and understand more about what interests us. What is wonderful is the way this social media has connected people of BDL descent back to their village communities – i’m sure that there has been a ‘spike’ in interest in Bagni di Lucca, you might not see all of that on your blog, but its definitely out there.
Francis and I write about different things, which is great. He has a special interest in music and history and has extensive knowledge about these things. We love to share the things we discover in the area. It is very special when people take the time to respond and share their thoughts.
It’s a great thing you do Deb and many of us enjoy and look forward in your next story. The BDL community should be very thankful to you considering the amount of people end up visiting due to your blog. Thanks for the enjoyment it always gives me.
Thanks Paul, both blogs have developed to be something I didn’t think about. The best bit has been meeting lots of great people. See you soon in BdL.
I look forward to reading about your adventures and to all that you discover in Bagni di Lucca and around Italy. It’s been a pleasure to meet you and I will always remember the wonderful tour of all your favorite spots in Lucca! Until we meet again-un abbraccio!
I hope we can meet again in Lucca for another wander in the lovely streets.
If not for blogging, Wade and I would not have had the great fortune of meeting you and Jim. Blogging has allowed us to meet new friends, as well as learn so much about places we would never have had the chance to learn about and then visit. It’s amazing how small the world becomes.
One of the very best things about writing a blog is all the wondeful people you meet. I hope we can catch up in Lucca in spring.