Thanks to Suzanna, Dome and Farah we have a beautiful nativity scene in the old kiosk in the piazza at Ponte a Serraglio.
I’m back at Ponte a Serraglio for a while. The stormy weather continues. Today was a mixture of rain, hail, thunder, bits of blue sky…and repeat.
I like the leaves on the footpath.
I have walked past this many times, but not really noticed how lovely it is.
I don’t mind a bit of wet weather and the occasional storm, but this weather has been frightening. I am surprised there is not more damage after these ferocious storms.
Autumn is a beautiful time to drive to Montefegatesi,the highest of the Bagni di Lucca villages. The mountain road is lined with trees in full autumn colour right now.
I went to the car park in Villa Fiori almost in time to see the huge tree that fell a few weeks ago lifted off the roof. Heavy equipment has been moved in. I’m sorry I missed the man in the cherry picker attaching ropes to the tree for the lift off.
Wouldn’t it be great to see someone buy Villa Fiori and bring it back to its former glory? Anyone out there???
It looks as if some of the other trees are being trimmed too.
It is interesting to see how newcomers to Bagni di Lucca see our lovely town. Mark and his wife Katrina have recently bought a property here and he has taken some excellent photos of Ponte a Serraglio and La Villa.
I hope Mark and Katrina enjoy their new lives in Bagni di Lucca. It is always great to welcome new people to the area.
This is the first year since we bought our apartment in Ponte a Serraglio in 2003 that I have been here for an entire summer. I usually go home to Australia to enjoy our wonderful sub tropical Brisbane winter. I am not a fan of hot weather, but Covid has changed many plans.
It is also the first year I have been here to look after the flowers I plant on the bridge in front of our apartment all summer. The plants are exposed to everything the weather can hit them with and they require quite a lot of watering, fertilising and general care. Because of the harsh conditions they don’t always do well. Even geraniums struggle to survive.
I planted geraniums and a bit later, marigolds, in late spring. The geraniums have not done well, but the marigolds have thrived. A few have recently dropped dead, but new seedlings are growing to replace them. They put on a very good show and there will be marigolds on the bridge next year.
The flowers on my balcony have finally come good after a slow start. These need watering almost daily to survive. I doubt I will plant them again even though they are very pretty.
The plant outside my bathroom window is the easiest to water. I can can reach them from my shower.
Since I will probably be here all winter I will be looking for something that will survive the cold.
The recent guided walk I joined was to Crasciana and Casabasciana. We concentrated mainly on some of the old churches in the towns. Many are closed so it is a treat to be able to go inside.
We arrived in the pretty piazza in Crasciana Alta.
There are some spectacular views over some of the other villages of Bagni di Lucca and the mountains behind. Even on a hazy day it looks wonderful.
We walked a short distance above the piazza to the first church on our list.
The interior is quite lavish. It seems that several families left the village years ago and became quite wealthy. Some returned and paid for the renovation of the church and other things in the village.
We walked up behind the church for more stunning views.
There is a pretty park, which is looked after by a group of motivated residents.
Next stop was Casabasciana to visit the Oratorio Murotto dating from the late 1600s. We were joined by the very knowledgeable Bruno Micheletti, who told about the sites in an interesting and entertaining way.
The tiny oratorio is full of treasures.
There was a little collection of small paintings. It is amazing that some of these things manage to survive.
From here we walked down (the residents must have a bit of mountain goat in their makeup) to the Chiesa di Santa Quirico e Guilitta built in the 18th century on the site of the 16th century oratorio of San Pietro.
Bruno took us to the sacristy behind the altar. One of the original cupboards still exist here. Apparently, they went out of style many years ago and most were pulled apart and sold off.
In front of the altar in a glass case is Saint Primo surrounded by embroidered flowers. Poor little Primo was 4 years old when he was murdered. Every 5 years on the second Sunday of August Casabasciana celebrates the life of Primo when the village lights up and has an evening of fireworks.
The unusual top on the campanile is the only one like it in the area. It was done in the style of the time it was renovated.
This is a link to a very old post I wrote about Casabasciana. It is time to return. Dinner with the huntsmen of Casabasciana
Our last stop was at the Pieve di Sala, built around 918. It was the original church for the area. It is an unadorned late Roman style building and it was a delight to be able to go inside. It was abandoned when churches closer to the villages were built, which is why it hasn’t had a modern makeover.
I was particularly impressed with the stone columns with decorations at the top of each one. There are remains of a old renovation in the form of red and white paint.
The faces fascinate me…who were the models I wonder.
The floor was originally much lower and the font was dug into the floor. It was moved at some stage and half of it has been placed against the wall.
There is an interesting little niche in a wall.
This was originally a window. The sun would enter here first in the morning and shine on the altar.
I visited the beautiful village of Sala a few years ago, see more in the link.Sala
Thank you again to Virgilio and Antonio for showing us these wonderful villages. Antonio made a comment that Virgilio must be centuries old to be able to relate stories with such detail from the past and make it sound as though he was there. He has a gift. Bruno has the same talent.
There are still some walks to go.
On Sunday I joined a guided walk to the old houses in Bagno alla Villa, one of the older parts of La Villa, the main village of Bagni di Lucca. It was organised by the Fondazione Culturale Michel de Montaigne.
We began at the English church in Via Evangelina Whipple. To cater for the English community in Bagni di Lucca in the 19th century, in 1839 Carlo Ludovico, Duke of Lucca, granted permission to build the “Palace of the English Nation” as it was called. The building was designed by Giuseppe Pardini. The church is now a wonderful library, which is now closed because of the disruptions caused by Covid 19.
Across the road from the church is a path that takes you up to meet the road going to Bagno alla Villa.
There is a great view of the church from up here.
The view also includes La Villa and behind to San Cassiano.
The first Villa we came to was once the summer home of Elisa Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister. There were no gates in her day. People preferred there gardens to be open.
We walked on to Villa Mansi, built between 1622 and 1669 by the Mansi family, one of the families of the Lucca aristocracy.
On a wall beside the above entrance is what is believed to be an original Della Robbia. It is in excellent condition.
The next house is lovely.
The highlight of the visit for me was being able to go inside the Terme
The baths have been closed for many years. It is a great pity that these wonderful establishments have not been able to be opened and used. They could be an asset to Bagni di Lucca.
Above the Terme we came to Villa Web, where Lord Byron stayed in 1822. The house is sometimes open for events and it is full of wonderful things from Bagni di Lucca’s past.
Beside it is the house where his friend Percy Shelley stayed.
From this level there is an excellent view of the top of the Terme. These structures were added to bring light and ventilation to the baths.
We walked back down towards Via Evangelina Whipple.
I particularly liked this little garden corner.
We came to the stables for the villas, now apartments.
Through the gates beside the stables is Villa Ada, which we didn’t visit. Here are photos I took a few years ago. This is another house begging to be restored and put to good use.
I am really enjoying these walks in Bagni di Lucca. Thank you to the organisers.