A nearby festival

Most festivals in Italy have not happened over the last 2 years because of Covid. It is encouraging to see this about to change this year.

We dropped in briefly to an olive oil festival in Valdottavo on Sunday.

We were there early and wandered through the pretty main street of the town to see lots of stalls set up.

The first stand had a familiar face. This family also runs the wonderful fruit and vegetable shop in Ponte a Serraglio. We picked up a few supplies on the way out.

We gathered a few other things on our walk through the town, including olive oil, a fennel disgestivo and some locally made sausages. It is a good way to get to know local growers and producers.

We had to leave before lunch which was a pity. Long tables were being set up and I’m sure the food would have been delicious.

Valdottavo is a pretty, well kept town with some impressive buildings. I think it needs another visit.

Update on the landslide at the Ponte della Maddalena

A few months ago there was a landslide near the Ponte Maddalena in Borgo a Mozzano, on the road to and from Bagni di Lucca. The road was closed for sometime while the fallen rocks and soil was cleared and the road reinforced.

Here is a photo I took of earlier work on the landslide.

The work continues and recently I climbed to the top of the bridge to see the workmen on the hillside.


The view from the top of the bridge is spectacular.

I hope those men and their equipment are securely tied to something sturdy!

A treasure nearby

I was invited to visit a beautiful palazzo in Ghivizzano, an ancient village not far from Bagni di Lucca. Palazzo Buonvisi is set into the medieval wall on the edge of the village.

Like all old buildings in the area it has an interesting past. It eventually came into the hands of the Nuti family the 16th century. They changed it from a fortified palace into a hunting lodge. In 1648 through a marriage between the Nuti and Buonvisi families the building doubled in size.

After a time it became a boarding school for girls at the behest of Monsignor Camilli who was born in Ghivizzano. He later became Bishop of Fiesole.

The ownership of the palazzo finally returned to the descendents of the Buonvisi family who have restored the beauty of the building.

After entering the portico into Ghivizzano, to the right is a tunnel on the inside of the wall.

A little further on is the entrance to the Palazzo Buonvisi.

There is a small courtyard in front of the palazzo.

The interior of the house takes the viewer back in time. Much of the furnishing and decoration is centuries old and in remarkable condition.

The bedrooms…


The bathrooms have stunning marble basins. The showers and plumbing are modern…which is a good thing.

The kitchen is fabulous, what a great place to have breakfast.

There is a tiny chapel behind doors.

There are beautiful sitting and dining rooms.

When layers of paint were scraped off some old doors the original decoration was revealed.


On the bottom floor, down stone stairs, is a spa with a sauna, jacuzzi and showers.

Across the road in front of the palazzo is a stunning walled garden with a pool, old well and a kitchen. I love the sculptures tucked into the trees.

The views from the house are gorgeous.


Stunning Palazzo Buonvisi is now available for rent…what a fabulous place to stay and experience the past glory of Italy with modern comforts!

Palazza Buonvisi…http://www.palazzobuonvisi.com

Ponte localita Molini

This beautiful bridge is on the road to Fabbriche di Vergemoli from Bagni di Lucca. It leads to an old mill.

It was built in the 1400s and restored in 2011.

It crosses a narrow stream.

There are signs up indicating that it is now a centre for outdoor activities, but it seems to be closed now,

It is worth a short stop to cross the bridge and look around…when we can move around more freely. There are many treasures in our area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The road at Ponte della Maddalena

I had an appointment recently in Borgo a Mozzano and had a bit of time to spare so I walked to the Ponte della Maddalena or Devil’s Bridge as it is commonly known. We can’t drive past the bridge on the usual route to Bagni di Lucca right now because of road damage in 2 places.

I walked to the top of the bridge to see the spectacle views from up there.


I could also see the huge landslide that has closed the road near the bridge completely. Work is progressing to clear it.


If you look closely at the photo below you can see a digger of some kind working on the slope. I hope it is secured in some way. There were also 2 men walking near the top of the landslide…dangerous work indeed.


It looks as though it might be a while before the road is open.

 

Lago di Gramolazzo

When we can travel again…Lago di Gramolazzo is about a 1 hour drive from Bagni di Lucca. It is a beautiful spot for a picnic and swimming…if you don’t mind cold water. I drove there via Piazza al Serchio. My GPS actually sent me to the wrong place, past the lake to a pretty walking track.

The mountains in this area are spectacular. I didn’t mind the detour.

The walking path is in the valley of the Orto di Donna – Val Serenia, an ancient glacial valley  created about 10,000 years ago. The path starts near the car park at an altitude of 1068 metres above sea level. It is an easy walk, only 500 metres long. All along the path there are wonderful views of the surrounding mountains.

 

 

On the way back I could see the lake from the road.

The lake was very quiet the day I visited. None of the nearby restaurants or cafes were open, but I could see that it be a popular place in summer.


There are hundreds of places to visit within and hour or 2 of Bagni di Lucca.

 

A walk on the Lucca wall

 

Autumn is a great time to walk on the stunning wall that surrounds Lucca. The trees are losing their leaves quickly now. Soon the trees will be bare. Come for a walk…

This lovely old tree just outside the wall looks as though it is set for removal. It has been fenced off perhaps because there is a danger of falling branches.

I love walking through the tunnels and up the stairs onto the wall.

I was lucky to be there on a glorious autumn day.

 

 

Walking on the Lucca wall is wonderful in any season. Best of all Lucca is just 30 minutes from Bagni di Lucca.

 

 

 

Fornovolasco

Fornovolasco is a tiny village in the comune of Fabbriche di Vergemoli in the province of Lucca. It is one of many villages in the Garfagnana to be explored. It is 480 metres above sea level and has a population of fewer than 100people.

Two streams join in the village.

 

I crossed just past where they meet via a pretty bridge.

 

There is a delightful piazza on the other side of the bridge.

Several narrow streets take you through the village.

Across another bridge the streets climb steeply upwards.


 

Gardens are squeezed into small places.

 

 

 

I found a renovator’s delight waiting for a new roof.

 

The church was not open.

Back down the hill…

I found a tunnel leading to another group of houses.

The village restaurant, Rifugio la Buca, looks a bit like a Swiss chalet. It was not open the day I was there.


I walked back along the river to my car.

Every single village is different…there is always something interesting to see. Just past Fornovolasco you will find the Grotta del Vento.

Lupinaia in Garfagnana

I have now been in Italy for 8 months and because of flight cancellations and other Covid related issues it looks like I will be here for another 8 months, which gives me lots of time to explore.

The wonderful nearby region of Garfagnana is full of picturesque villages to explore. On a (rare) recent fine day I drove up to Lupinaia. The narrow turnoff to Fosciandora and Lupinaia is on the right, just before Castelnuovo when driving from Bagni di Lucca. I have been there before when I visited for  the excellent chestnut festival, which won’t be happening this year.

I parked the car outside the village and walked up. The views across the Serchio valley are spectacular.

Lupinaia is ancient. It has been mentioned in manuscripts from the mid 700s. It is a tiny village…come for a walk with me.

A narrow street leads from the small piazza at the entrance of the village.

I passed a well designed wood stack, some red berries on a tree and a pretty garden.

I walked on towards the lovely green space where the people who live here can enjoy some gorgeous open space, with great views over the village.

I walked back and walked up the hill towards the church.

 

The church of San Pietro dates from 754AD and is mentioned in many medieval documents. There are treasures inside, but it was not open so I can’t take you in.

From the top, in front of the church the gorgeous valley can be seen below.

 

Along the way through Lupinaia I spotted some wonderful old doors. I am always curious about what is behind them.

There are several pretty decorations dotted through the village.

I don’t know how many people live in Lupinaia, but it is well cared for and obviously loved by those who do.

On the way down the mountain I saw another village…and more views, to be explored on another day.

Here is the post I wrote about the chestnut festival in Lupinaia. It is one of the best in the area.http://bagnidilucca.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/roasting-chestnuts-in-Lupinaia

I enjoyed looking back on the post. It was great to see Lupinaia full of people enjoying the chestnut festival on a gorgeous autumn day. I can’t believe it was 9 years ago. I miss these wonderful local festivals.

Hydrangeas rule in Boveglio

Boveglio is a village clinging to the mountainside not far from Benabbio on the road towards Collodi and Pescia. It belongs to the Comune di Villa Basilica and has a population of about 150 people.

Little of the ancient village is visible from the road. I parked at the top and walked down the steep path to explore. One of the first things I noticed was the lovely gardens, many filled with hydrangeas in bloom. My visit was a little while ago, so they are probably past their best now.

Come for a walk through Boveglio…

 

 

 

 


The village was bigger than I expected. There were several narrow streets spreading up and down the incline.

I came to the piazza where I found a bar beside the statue dedicated to fallen soldiers.

 

From the terrace I had an excellent view of the village and surrounds.

 

 

Then it was back up to the top.

 

 

 

Boveglio is delightful. The gardens are beautifully cared for. Most houses are built of grey stone, so it could quite drab without the riot if colour provided by the lovely flowers. Thank you to the green fingered gardeners who made this walk through the village so joyful.