Make the most of your visit to Bagni di Lucca

I am often asked for ideas on what to see in Bagni di Lucca. This can be a little complicated because Bagni di Lucca is not one town, but a collection of villages scattered on either side of the Lima River in quite a large area. There are around 25 villages.

It also depends on how long is the intended stay and whether a car will be available.

For a one day trip from Lucca without a car I usually recommend taking the CTT from Piazza Verdi to Ponte a Serraglio, one of the villages along the Lima. Stop for a coffee at Il Monaco or Bar Italia in the little piazza.

Bar Italia

Il Monaco

Walk up the hill to Bagni Caldi to visit the Jean Veraud Terme, where people have been “taking the waters” for centuries. The road is a little steep, but you can stop along the way to admire the view.

Ponte a Serraglio

If you book ahead you could enjoy one of the treatments, a deep marble bath or the steam grotto, one of which was the personal steam grotto of the sister of Napoleon.

Bernabo Spa

Terme Jean Veraud

Keep walking up the hill towards Colle and take the path down the other side to La Villa, the commercial centre of Bagni di Lucca and the home of the Comune. In summer the beautiful pool is open, offering a swim with a wonderful view.

Bagni di Lucca pool

Have lunch at one of the many restaurants and perhaps take a walk along the river where Elizabeth and Robert Barrett Browning liked to walk when they visited Bagni di Lucca.

Lovers walk

From there it is possible to catch a bus back to Lucca. You could also walk along the river for about 2 kilometres to Fornoli, have an aperitivo at Cafe Catena, say hello to Paolo, and take the train back to Lucca.

Cafe Catene

For those staying longer it is important to know which village your accommodation is in. The 3 villages along the river, Fornoli, Ponte a Serraglio and La Villa, are easily reached by public transport. The others are not as easy to access. There are only a couple of buses a day from La Villa. You will need a car, or hire a taxi (which will need to be done in advance) or arrange transport with your landlord.

Without a car it can be difficult to access the outer villages. It is possible if you carefully coordinate the buses. Ask for help with a local or try the information office in La Villa.

If you have a car there are some truly stunning villages to visit. Each one is different and beautiful in its own way. Some have a restaurant or a bar, but many do not. I have visited all of the villages and if you go to the top of the page and click “Villages” a list will appear with a link to each one.

Be aware that the mountain roads are narrow and winding. There isn’t a lot of traffic and once you get used to driving on the roads you will be rewarded with spectacular scenery.

Mountain road

The villages are centuries old, some of them were settled by retiring Roman soldiers. Some have changed little and offer an authentic view of Italian life from times past.

Montefegatesi is the highest of the villages at 842 metres above sea level. Park on the edge of town and take the walk to the top to the statue of Dante for some of the best views over the mountains. Stop for a snack at the bar in the central piazza.

Montefegatesi

Vico Pancellorum has an excellent restaurant, Buca di Baldabo, which serves delicious home made pasta and local produce.

Buca di Baldabo

If you are up for it there is a steep walk to the top through cobblestone streets, rewarded with pretty views. Look for the ancient church at the bottom of the village.

There is a lovely walk from Pieve di Monte di Villa down to Ponte a Serraglio. Take the bus up, explore the village, have lunch at the Refugio Fiori and take a leisurely walk down through the beautiful forest. It is especially delightful in spring and autumn.

Luccio is the last village in Bagni di Lucca. In fact you leave the Lucca province briefly and enter Pistoia, before turning back to the road to Lucchio. The village clings like a limpet to the side of the mountain. It is said that hens in Lucchio lay square eggs to prevent them rolling down the slope.

Lucchio

Climb to the top to see the ruins of an ancient fort.

La Rocca Lucchio

Take a walk through the English cemetery in La Villa (take the walking bridge near the theatre) and look for some famous names. Some dedicated locals have been slowly restoring the graves to their original state.

English cemetery

If you are lucky you will be in town for one of the many festivals in the area. Check this blog, ask at the information centre or look for posters in the local bars to see what is on.

If you click “Eat” at the top of the page you will find a list of the restaurants in the area and a link to a post about each one.

Go back through the archives. I have been collecting stories about Bagni di Lucca for  5 years and there is quite a bit of information about the villages and what to see in the area.

If you have any specific questions I will try to answer them or direct you to someone who can help.

 

Parking tip

It can be a bit difficult for new visitors to Italy to understand the parking signs.

In many places in Bagni di Lucca (and other places) you will see this sign.

Parking sign

It means you can park for free, but only for 2 hours, between the hours of 8.00am to 8.00pm. Outside these hours parking for longer periods is OK.

The little dial on the bottom left of the sign indicates that you need to set your timer.

In your car you should have a timer. Set this at the time you park your car and remember to come back before the time expires.

Your hire car should have one. If not, I have found them for a couple of euros at Tabacchi and some newsagents.

Parking timer

If you forget to set your timer that is no excuse. If the police come you will be issued with a fine.

 

Rent a mountain bike

While attending a wonderful performance at the Teatro Accademico a few days ago I spotted  a doorway between the theatre and Hotel Regina.

Mountain bike hire

Mountain bike hire

I think it is new and it will be of great interest to anyone who wishes to rent a mountain bike. There are dozens of trails through the forests around Bagni di Lucca and I’m sure mountain biking would be a great thing to do here.

Mountain bike hire

If you have no desire to go biking this post will be of no interest to you at all. There will be something else soon.

Hire a car in Bagni di Lucca

If you are only staying a few days in one of the villages of Bagni di Lucca it is possible to manage with public transport, but if you want to do a bit of sightseeing in the area, and I highly recommend this, you might like to hire a car.

There is a small garage in Fornoli that has a couple of cars and a 9 seater for hire. Go to Carrozzeria Tognelli Umberto, in Via Papa Giovanni XXIII.

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Telephone… 0583 86234
Email…tognellicar@live.it

 

 

Getting to Bagni di Lucca

The most likely way for you to arrive in Bagni di Lucca is to drive. No doubt you will be armed with maps and a sat-nav.

Be sure to know the name of the village you are looking for. Bagni di Lucca usually refers to La Villa, the administrative centre. Along with Fornoli and Ponte a Serraglio, La Villa is situated beside the Lima River. All other villages are scattered on the mountains on either side of the river.

To help you to find your way to Bagni di Lucca I have taken photos from the passenger seat of our car from Lucca, the most likely way for you to drive. It will take about 30 minutes to drive from Lucca to Bagni di Lucca.

After leaving the A11 or the A12 Autostrada you will go through the Alt Stazione and find yourself in Viale Europa. As you come over a small rise you will see the wall surrounding Lucca…and a roundabout.

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You can go either way at the roundabout and follow the wall around the town.

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If you go left you will drive through a beautiful tunnel formed by the huge trees lining the street.

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Follow the signs towards Abetone and Bagni di Lucca.

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You will come to a distinctive roundabout with 4 poles.

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Turn here for the Strada Statale 12 dell’Abetone e del Brennero, which will take you to Bagni di Lucca.

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After a couple of kilometres you will leave the town behind and the scenery will change and you will see our mountains.

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You will come to a roundabout, follow the signs for Abetone.

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You will go though a series of tunnels.

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Soon you will come to a fork in the road. Take the road to the left.

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Don’t panic if you are in the wrong lane and take to road to the right. It will take you to Borgo a Mozzano and you will find signs there to take back to the SS12.

You will soon come to the stunning Ponte della Madelena. It should be on your left.

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A few kilometres from here you will arrive in Bagni di Lucca. You can turn left at this sign to go to Fornoli and on to Ponte a Serraglio and La Villa.

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Or go straight ahead until you come to these signs, where if you turn left, you will have arrived at Ponte a Serraglio.

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Cross the bridge and you will be in the piazza of Ponte a Serraglio. Turn right at the end of the bridge and La Villa is approximately 1 kilometre further on.

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It is also possible to arrive in Bagni di Lucca by Lazzi bus from Lucca. Here is Piazzale Verdi where the bus station is. The bus trip will be about 40 – 50 minutes.

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There is a ticket office on the corner where you can buy a ticket and ask where is the bus stop. Don’t forget to validate your ticket when you enter the bus. There are often inspectors on the bus and you may be fined if your ticket has not been validated. Ask the driver to let you off in Bagni di Lucca.

There is also a train from Lucca to Bagni di Lucca. Here is the train station in Lucca.

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Bagni di Lucca is not the final destination of the train. Look for a train going to Piazza al Serchio or Aulla. It will take about 25 minutes to get from Lucca to Bagni di Lucca. Bagni di Lucca is the stop after Borgo a Mozzano. Once again, your ticket must be validated before you enter the train.

Here is the Bagni di Lucca station.

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At the front of the station, near the covered bus seat, you can catch a bus to Fornoli, Ponte a Serraglio and La Villa.

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The buses do not coordinate very well with the trains…don’t ask me why.

For this reason I think it is better to arrive in Bagni di Lucca by bus, rather than train. There is no footpath most of the way from Fornoli station to Ponte a Serraglio and the approximately 1 kilometre walk can be a bit dangerous.

Take the bus to Florence

Florence is an easy day trip from Bagni di Lucca. It is possible to drive there in about 90 minutes, but driving in the city is difficult and parking is scarce and expensive, so I usually catch the bus. CTT (usually blue) buses go regularly in the mornings from Bagni di Lucca to Lucca and from the bus stop in Piazza Verdi (there is a bus office here where you can get timetables) take the DD (direct) bus to Florence. Once again, it is the blue CTT bus. It takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes to get to the centre of Florence.

UPDATE! The bus no longer drops you near the station, but just outside the centre. You will need to cross the road and look for the tram stop. Take the tram one stop to the station. I believe it is free, but I am not completely sure about that.

The bus trip is very pleasant. I always sit on the river side of the bus to Lucca to get good view of the spectacular Ponte della Maddalena. The bus follows the Serchio river to Lucca and the scenery is gorgeous all the way.

Ponte Maddalena

The bus trip from Lucca to Florence is also interesting. The direct bus takes the autostrada and the scenery along the way is delightful. My favourite part of the trip is the area around Pistoia, where on either side of the road there are plant nurseries. Row upon row of perfectly manicured shrubs and trees are grown to be sold all over Italy and beyond. The photos are taken from the bus so there is a bit of reflection.

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Please check the timetables before your travel, but here are the best connections I have found. Take the 7.45am bus from La Villa which gets into Piazza Verdi in time to catch the 8.55am DD bus to Florence. You should arrive at about 10.10am. On the way home I catch the 3.40pm bus from Florence which arrives in Lucca in time to catch the 5.10pm bus to Bagni di Lucca which will get you home by 6.00pm. Or there is a bus from Florence at around 5.15pm which will have you in Lucca to catch the 7.00pm bus to Bagni di Lucca.

If you catch the 7.45am or the 5.10pm bus from Lucca to Bagni di Lucca say hello to Massimo, he is almost always driving these buses.

You can buy bus and train tickets at Tabacchi and some bars. There is also a bus ticket office in Lucca and Florence. Don’t forget to validate your ticket as you enter the bus.

It is also posible to catch a train from Bagni di Lucca to Lucca. It leaves from Fornoli. Local buses will take you to the train station, but probably won’t actually coordinate with any of the trains (don’t ask me why). The road to Fornoli has no footpath for some of the way, so be careful. If you catch a train from Lucca to Florence try to catch an express, which takes about 1 hour 20 minutes. The regular trains take about 2 hours and stop at every station along the way. Validate your ticket before you enter the train at one of the machines on the platform.

The website  for the bus is www.vaibus.it

For trains go to www.trenitalia.com

Have a great day in Florence.

Click here for another post about getting to Bagni di Lucca.

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