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.

Isola Santa

When you have explored all the villages that make up Bagni di Lucca there are hundreds of interesting hamlets to visit in nearby Garfagnana.

Isola Santa is a partially submerged village not far from Castelnuovo in the Garfagnana. It was built in the Middle Ages, probably the 13th century, around a hospice for travellers and pilgrims.

The hospice was disbanded in 1575. It was brought back to life in 1608 and rebuilt as the church of St Jacopo, which still stands today. The detached bell tower was built in 1899.

In 1950 the construction of a hydroelectric station forced the inhabitants to leave. A dam was built and the old bridge and a mill were flooded. Years later some inhabitants returned and restored some of the buildings, but these days it is almost deserted.

It doesn’t take long to explore a Isola Santa…come for a walk through the village.



The best reason to come to Isola Santa is to enjoy the calm, clear water held back by the dam. It is a great place to have a picnic, eat at one of the restaurants or go fishing.



 

Isola Santa would be a lovely day trip from Bagni di Lucca.

 

 

Abetone pyramids

Autumn is a great time to take a drive to Abetone, the ski village 40 kilometres from Bagni di Lucca. 

As you get close to Abetone the vegetation changes and autumn is in full swing. The photos were taken from a moving car, so some are a bit blurry.

 

 

 

In the centre of Abetone there are 2 stone pyramids erected to celebrate the opening of the Strada Regia Modenese, Modenese Royal Road.

On the Tuscan side of the road.

On the Modena side.

 

 

The road was begun in 1766 and was completed about 10 years later. It secured an important trade route, joining the territories of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy Modena. It was financed jointly by Pietro Leopoldo and Francesco III.

From this position in the village it is possible the see some of the ski runs without snow.

 

 

The skiing in Abetone is great and the village comes alive when the snow falls, but it is very pretty right now. Take a drive and enjoy the autumn colour.

 

Chestnut festival in Trassilico

It is chestnut season! Chestnuts are ripening on the trees and chestnut festivals pop up in villages in the area.

On Sunday I visited Trassilico for their annual chestnut festival. I have developed a taste for necci, chestnut pancakes. I like mine filled with ricotta, but you can aslo have them with nutella.

Trassilico is not far from Bagni di Lucca. Drive to Gallicano at the beginning of the Garfagnana and follow the signs. The road up to Trassilico is narrow and winding, so take care.

There are some stunning chestnut forest surrounding Trassilico.

 

The town is perched on the side of the mountain.

 

The festival takes place is the little piazza just inside the entrance to the town. Chestnuts were roasting and the aroma was delicious.

 

I wandered a little in this well kept town.

The Rifugio was doing a roaring trade.

Through the gaps between the houses I spotted views of Vergemoli and I could see our Casa Debbio just outside the village. It was a cloudy day, so the photo is not clear.

I love these local festivals. It is good the see the small villages come alive and fill with enthusiastic visitors.

Verrucole, a fortress on a hill

The magnificent Fortezza delle Verrucole sits 600 metres above sea level above the village of Verrucole. It is 3 kilometres from the town of San Romano in Garfagnana. The fortress offers spectacular views over the Garfagnana valley and the Apuan Alps.

The fortress was built by the Gherardinghi family in feuding times around the 11th and 12th centuries. It was originally 2 buildings, Rocca Quadra and Rocca Tondo on each side of a hill and surrounded by a wall. It fell into serious disrepair until a 6 year restoration brought it back to life and open to the public. It is a wonderful glimpse into medieval life.

We visited on a cloudy spring day and walked up the path from the village.

There is a quaint ticket office at the entrance. A costumed attendant sold us our €5 tickets.

We walked up the steep steps to the tower, which had been very well restored. The first floor has been set up as if the original residents were still there.

The kitchen is particularly well done.

The top floor of the tower has information and history and great views from the outside terrace.

The toilet built into the outer wall might leave you a little exposed in winter.

We ventured to the other end of the site. There is a very good cafe that serves coffee and light meals.

We were able to have a little archery practice for the tiny sum of €3. Our friend Moira proved to be a natural and hit the target almost every time.

Jim tried too, but probably should keep his day job as an accountant. I am useless at things like this, so I was happy to watch.

We walked back through the village past an old church to the car park below…a last look at the Fortezza.

Fortezza delle Verrucole is very well presented and an interesting place to spend a couple of hours. The drive up to Verrucole is through gorgeous scenery. It is an easy day trip from Bagni di Lucca.

http://fortezzaverrucolearcheopark.it

Lucca cathedral renewed

The impressive San Martino cathedral in Lucca has had its facade cleaned recently. On my last visit it was covered in scaffolding. I was happy to see it uncovered and looking wonderful.

San Martino Lucca

The church was begun around 1070 and has had many additions over the centuries. The facade was started in 1204. There are 3 magnificent arches with open galleries above adorned with sculptures.

San Martino Lucca

San Martino Lucca

San Martino Lucca

There is a legend to explain why the columns on the facade are different. When the residents of Lucca wanted to decorate the facade they began a competition and invited artists to create a column. Many artists created columns and the residents decided not to select a winner but used all the columns and didn’t pay the artists.

The labrynth embedded in the right pier of the portico is believed to date from the 12th or 13th century.

San Martino Lucca

The original of the sculpture of San Martino, who was a knight on horseback, dates from 1233 and is inside the cathedral. The one on the facade is a copy.

San Martino Lucca

I’ll take you inside in another post.