Then and now, Ponte delle Catene

Ponte delle Catene, the chain suspension bridge that connects Fornoli and Chifenti is now a pedestrian bridge. It was commissioned by Carlo Ludovico in 1840 after the original stone bridge dating from 1317 was washed away in a flood.

Here are some old photos.

 

Ponte Catene

Ponte Catene

Ponte Catene

Lorenzo Nottolini was the architect. He erected arches reminiscent of Roman Triumphal arches on either side of the river. The wooden roadway  was destroyed by retreating Germans in WWII. It was replaced in 1950.

This is a photo of the bridge during the reconstruction. (Thank you to Alessandro for the correction)

Ponte Catene

Today the bridge is still impressive.

Ponte Catene

Ponte Catene

Ponte Catene

Ponte Catene

Ponte Catene

Ponte Catene

There are excellent views to be had from the bridge.

Ponte Catene

Ponte Catene

…just another of the treasures in Bagni di Lucca.

Then and now…the school

The school beside the road between Ponte a Serraglio and La Villa used to be so full some students had to move to the Boy Scout (now Red Cross) building opposite.

Old school Bagni di Lucca

Now it is derelict…another building that needs some love.

School Bagni di Lucca

School Bagni di Lucca

School Bagni di Lucca

School Bagni di Lucca

Bagni di Lucca has lots of unloved buildings. I think is one could be turned into apartments. There is room for a garden at the back on the edge of the river…any takers?

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 Lazzi bus 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 Bernabo Spa or 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.

 

Postcard pretty

A couple of posts back I showed you some photos of Montefegatesi. A friend sent me a photo of a postcard of the village covered in snow. I don’t know when it was taken but Montefegatesi looks great with a white blanket.

Montefegatesi

 

I don’t think it will be a white Christmas in Montefegatesi this year. Merry Christmas anyway and have a wonderful 2017.