San Bartolomeo…a beautiful old church

Our lovely friend Agostino took us for a drive to Cune, a gorgeous village above Borgo a Mozzano, just a few kilometres from Bagni di Lucca.

We drove through olive trees and grapevines and then through wonderful chestnut forests on our way past Cune and up the hill to the Chiesa and Romitorio di San Bartolomeo. It was a misty, rainy day, which made the drive even more beautiful.

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We parked the car beside the road and walked a small distance to the collection of ancient buildings.

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The stone buildings are well preserved and the area is well tended. The church was begun in the 12th century and completed in the 12th or 13th century with the addition of an apse.

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This doorway is tiny.

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There is an old oven in one of the buildings.

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…and some interesting old stones.

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Mushrooms are growing well near the buildings. The first one was enormous and seemed to be growing from the side of a building. The others were a normal size.

Further up the mountain are the remains of an old signal tower, called “The eye of Lucca”. It was an early warning system for the area. On a fine day we will investigate.

On the way home we had an excellent view of the Ponte Maddalena from above.

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There is a never ending supply of fascinating things to discover in the Bagni di Lucca area.

Thank you Agostino for a great day.

Ponte della Maddalena…..Devil’s Bridge

Ponte Maddalena

While this gorgeous bridge is not actually in Bagni di Lucca it is synonymous with the area, and a perfect introduction to our villages . The very beautiful Ponte Diavolo crosses the Serchio river at Borgo a Mozzano, just 4 kilometres before Bagni di Lucca.

The bridge was thought to be commissioned by the Countess Matilda of Tuscany around 1080 – 1100 to enable people to cross the Serchio and get access to the spas in Bagno di Corsena, as Bagni di Lucca was then called.

The name Ponte Maddalena comes from a life size image of Maddalena, a painting from the Della Robbia school, which was in an oratory at the foot of the bridge. You can now see it in the Church of S. Jacopo in Borgo a Mozzano.

The bridge’s more popular name, Devil’s Bridge, comes from the legend from the time of Saint Julian, the protector of travellers. The devil was asked for help to construct the bridge and in return he was offered the soul of whoever crossed the bridge first. Saint Julian arranged for a dog to cross the bridge for the first time.

In 1836 a flood damaged the bridge and it required significant repairs. An extra arch was added in the early 1900s to make more room for a surfaced roadway.

spring at Ponte della Maddalena

beside the bridge

a perfect reflection

the main arch is 18.5 metres high

looking down from the top

looking towards Bagni di Lucca

from the top

a perfect spring day

looking towards Borgo a Mozzano

the beautiful Serchio valley

Lucky for us it is still intact and it is possible to walk across the bridge and to admire the excellent view from the highest arch.

The bridge takes on a completely different look in winter. I think it looked wonderful in 2011 with the huge flag put there to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

a rainy day at Ponte della Maddalena

even the ducks are impressed

There is a car park beside the bridge to allow you to stop for a while. I tried walking there from Bagni di Lucca once, but that was a bit scary. There is no footpath and the road is narrow and I was shouted at by drivers. There is a bus stop there, so if you can coordinate the buses, that would be an option. Walking from Borgo a Mozzano is a bit less dramatic.

I think the perfect solution would be a footpath constructed beside the road, over the river, which would give excellent pedestrian access…… is anyone listening?