As usual, there are great things to do in Bagni di Lucca.
In Ponte a Serraglio…Halloween dinner on 31st October at Risorante Cavalier Bruno.
Gombereto…October fun on 28th October.
Montefegatesi…Halloween fun on 31st October.
On the road from Bagni di Lucca to Abetone at Fabbriche di Casabascana you will find Trattoria Bar Topo Gigio.
I had heard it was a fun place to stop for coffee or lunch so with some friends I decided to try it.
The tables were all full, but fortunately somebody left as we arrived and we found a spot. It is always a good sign when a place is packed at lunch time.
The service is brisk and friendly and soon our lunch arrived.
We ordered ravioli with the Gigio sauce, which is deliciously spicy.
The gnocchi came with the same sauce, but there were several other we could have tried.
We all ordered the Milanese with a side order of salad and chips…all good.
Topo Gigio is a fun place to stop…I will return.
Str. del’Abetone e del Brennero 25 – 27
Fabbriche di Gallicano
Chestnuts are ripening on trees all over Bagni di Lucca. I went up to the lovely chestnut forest just outside Montefegatesi hoping to see some autumn colour. The trees are still green, but the beginnings of change can be seen. Best of all some of the trees are laden with chestnuts.
Autumn is the time for chestnut festivals. I have attended several of these over the years and I find them great fun.
Here are a few coming up soon in Garfagnana.
Cascio has a wonderful chestnut festival. I have been twice. This year it will be held on Sunday 7th October. This one attracts a big audience. Be early if you want to find a place in the car park. Festivities usually begin at about 11.00am.
Castiglione di Garfagnana is a gorgeous hilltop town. The chestnut festival is set for 14th October.
Trassilico will also hold its festival on 14th October. I have been to this one too and enjoyed it immensely.
Lucchio will have its chestnut festival on 21st October. I went last year and had delicious necci.
Castelnuovo’s will be held over 2 days, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th October.
Lupinaia has a wonderful chestnut festival. I attended several years ago. This year it will be held on Sunday 11th November.
I will be back in a few weeks to see the Montefegatesi trees in their autumn colours.
The Grotta del Vento, wind cave, is a cave in a mountain in Garfagnana, an area in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. It is near the towns of Fornovalasco and Vergemoli. (About 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca) The cave has 2 entrances, one at 642 metres above sea level and another on the other side of the mountain at 1400 metres.
It is a wind cave because air is able to blow through the cave from one entrance to the other. The direction of the wind depends on the temperature outside the cave. In summer, when the air outside is warmer, the air is drawn through the higher entrance and out of the lower entrance. In winter the reverse happens and the air flows upwards. If the temperature outside is the same as inside there is no wind. The temperature inside the cave stays at around 10.7degrees C all year. A heavy door has now been installed to stop the flow of air, but you can certainly feel it once the door is open.
The cave is open for visitors. There are 3 guided tours available. The first is the one I did. It takes about 1 hour and explores the part of the cave lined with limestone formations. Fascinating stalactites and stalagmites glisten as you walk along the narrow path which takes you deep into the cave.
Just for fun a large skeleton of a bear has been installed near the entrance.
Soon the door is opened and we enter the cave.
The narrow paths are lit and you can see the stalactites and stalagmites and pools of water. There are steps occasionally, but it is not too strenuous and there are hand rails for safety.
You can see some tiny ones beginning to form. It would be necessary to come back in a few hundred years to see much of a difference. Most take about 1000 years to grow 10 centimetres.
At one point the guide turns off the lights so that you can experience total darkness. It is quite an eerie feeling.
The second tour takes 2 hours and a descent is made into an area without limestone formations but interesting forms of erosion on the walls. The third one takes 3 hours in a vertical shaft which is climbed from the bottom to reach a final chamber at the top, followed by a short underground tunnel.
The cave was first discovered in 1989 by children exploring the area. The only one small enough to climb through the entrance was a 4 year old girl. The others opened the entrance a little, but were too frightened to go further than 20 metres into the cave.
The first expedition for research purposes was organised in 1929 by the Florentine Speleogical Grouo of the Italian Alpine Club which stopped at about 60 metres from the entrance by water.
The Bolognese Speleoligical Group got further in 1961 after a prolonged dry spell. Other expeditions followed until 1975 when the explorations extended to 2470 metres and the cave was opened to tourists. Now there are 4 galleries known with at least another 20 branches to be explored.
The guided tours are well organised and the guides are very knowledgeable. There is a shop and a restaurant nearby, so it would be easy to spend several hours here.
See more on the Grotta del Vento website…grottadelvento.com
David Collins has written part 2 of Buying and Restoring in Tuscany, an excellent guide for those looking to buy in this gorgeous part of the world.
There will be a book launch on September 8th in Lucca at Lucca Libri, Viale Regina Margherita 113. (Near the train station) It will begin at 5pm with an aperitivo. Come along to meet the author and hear all about the book.
Here is what to expect from the new book…
The second volume of this poular guide provides the reader with priceless information about searching for, and buying and restoring a property in Tuscany. It is packed with valuable tips and precious advice difficult to find elsewhere and is based on practical day-to-day experience of the author.
David shows us how to conduct a negotiation the “Italian way” or to quickly recognise a dwelling in disguise. The role and responsibility of the Italian notary is unveiled for the Anglo-Saxon world. We learn about the essential steps in managing a restoration project whilst revealing several tips.
He explains how earthquakes can affect older properties and unravels the complex laws in a simple and plain way for everyone to understand. The section on swimming pools makes you want to immediately go for a refreshing dip. The chapter on arches is both fascinating and insightful or the way he throws a sense of humour on malfunctioning septic tanks and suggestions for fixes.
David “the philosopher” reflects on why people move to Tuscany in the first place and how some end up living a full and wholesome life whilst others live in a bubble. Many essential taxation matters are revealed and the book wraps up with a very useful checklist of questions that everyone must have when viewing a property.
David has managed to provide us with a wealth of information deriving from his unsurpassed experience of working and living in Tuscany. This book is an absolute must before you depart on the Italian journey!
For those not able to attend the launch the book is available on Amazon.