Crasciana and Casabasciana walk

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.

I visited Crasciana Alta several years ago. Here is the link to see the photos from that trip. Crasciana Alta  
Here is a link to Crasciana below. Crasciana

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.

 

Meet Heather from Casabasciana

20120731-074448.jpg

Heather Jarman lives in Casabasciana, one of the gorgeous mountain villages of Bagni di Lucca. In her career as an archeologist she researched the early history of agriculture. She is passionately interested in food, from growing and production to cooking and eating.

Her knowledge of food production in the Bagni di Lucca and Garfagnana is amazing. I first met her last year when she took me along to meet a local cheese maker. We set off into the mountains and met the delightful Marzia who spent the morning showing us how to make cheese and ricotta. Click here for the full story.

20120731-062717.jpg

20120731-062747.jpg

On another adventure we went high in the mountains to a village called Lupinaia for their chestnut festival. It was one of the most delightful afternoons I have ever had, topped off with a walk back to the car along an old mule trail.

20120731-062940.jpg

20120731-063046.jpg

20120731-063156.jpg

Click here to see more of the very beautiful Lupinaia.

This year we headed off to the Slow Food soup finals in Lucca and got to try some delicious soup and listen to some great folk music. Click here to see more.

20120731-063513.jpg

I have learned how to make bread using traditional methods in a wood fired oven with Paolo after visiting his gorgeous farm in the Garfagnana. He grows farro and breeds beautiful cattle. Click here to see the gorgeous cows.

20120731-063728.jpg

20120731-063943.jpg

That’s Paolo blessing the bread as it goes in the oven.

I went with Heather to the huntsmen’s dinner in Casabasciana, where we helped the hunters eat the cinghiale (wild boar) they had caught during the season. Both the food and the company were wonderful after we had worked up our appetites with a walk around the beautiful village at sunset.

20120731-074123.jpg

20120731-074135.jpg

20120731-074200.jpg

20120731-074224.jpg

20120731-074243.jpg

Click here to see more of Casabasciana.

We went to the Lucca Wine and Food festival and met lots of local wine makers.

20120731-075148.jpg

20120731-075333.jpg

20120731-075346.jpg

And we ate some wonderful local food. Click here to see more.

20120731-075432.jpg

Quite possibly best of all she introduced me to the delightful concerts in Lucca organised by Mattia. I became a regular visitor on Tuesday and Friday nights. Click here to find out more, or check the website http://iconcertidegliangeli.com

20120731-075924.jpg

20120731-075943.jpg

20120731-075953.jpg

There is a never ending list of things to do in Bagni di Lucca and the nearby areas…..and Heather knows all about them. She organises tours for small groups to do things you would never find in a guide book. In her own words she is “Making tourism work to sustain the rural economy and the people. …you will encounter an endangered lifestyle which we don’t want to disappear.”

Visit her website for more information…..www.sapori-e-saperi.com

Dinner with the huntsmen of Casabasciana

20120318-072424.jpg

The name Casabasciana probably comes from the Roman settler called Bassius, who built his house here. The town is perched on the side of the hill about 4 kilometres up from Fabbriche di Casabasciana on the SS12.
My friend and I were invited by Heather Jarman from Sapori e Saperi to join the dinner put on by the Squadra di Cacciatori , the hunting team from Casabasciana, an offer too good to refuse, especially since the proceeds of the evening are to be used to renovate a building in town to provide help for some of the older residents.
We went up to the village in the late afternoon to discover the delights of Casabasciana.
The streets of the village are narrow, winding and steep.

20120318-065757.jpg

20120318-070126.jpg

20120318-070146.jpg

There are lots of lovely old buildings to see.

20120318-070321.jpg

20120318-070343.jpg

20120318-070443.jpg

20120318-070508.jpg

20120318-070524.jpg

20120318-070622.jpg

20120318-071357.jpg

20120318-071411.jpg

I spotted a small statue of the Madonna in an alcove opposite the main church.

20120318-071514.jpg

She was standing on an interesting base.

20120318-071554.jpg

We wandered to the outskirts of the town where the buildings end and some of the farming area still exists.

20120318-071822.jpg

We met Giovanni with his tractor loaded with wood.

20120318-071929.jpg

He has lived all his life in Casabasciana and proudly showed us the house that belonged to his grandfather which he has renovated for his daughter.

20120318-072044.jpg

He keeps a very neat wood pile.

20120318-072114.jpg

Spring is coming to Casabasciana.

20120318-072625.jpg

20120318-072659.jpg

20120318-072718.jpg

We met Heather who showed us some of the things we missed.

20120318-074058.jpg

The communal washing area, which is still used.

20120318-074238.jpg

Her garden shed.

20120318-074307.jpg

Another little shrine.

20120318-074415.jpg

Beautiful building decoration.

20120318-074455.jpg

The oldest, and apparently the best water supply.

20120318-074657.jpg

The lovely little church beyond the village.

The fresco inside the old church.

We were on the edge of town to see the sunset.

20120318-074952.jpg

20120318-075017.jpg

20120318-075101.jpg

We went to the main square which looked beautiful at night.

20120318-075446.jpg

The town is tiny, but it has a bar and an excellent shop which stocks everything.

20120318-075549.jpg

We had a cup of tea in Heather’s lovely kitchen.

20120318-075718.jpg

Her house has lots of gorgeous rooms.

20120318-075802.jpg

Finally it was time for dinner.

20120318-075852.jpg

Tommaso and Anna Rosa serving the crostini.

20120318-080034.jpg

First course.

20120318-080143.jpg

Patiently waiting for the next delicious course.

20120318-080244.jpg

The pasta.

20120318-080336.jpg

The chingiale arrives.

20120318-080418.jpg

20120318-080447.jpg

The vegetables are served by Dalida.
20120318-080601.jpg
20120318-080642.jpg

Renato carving the porchetta.

20120318-080745.jpg

20120318-080802.jpg

20120318-080825.jpg

20120318-081102.jpg

My porchetta.

20120318-081141.jpg

Alfredo enjoying his stinco (shin bone)

20120318-081256.jpg

Pannacotta for dolce.

And as is that wasn’t enough, there were frittelle di San Giuseppe to follow.

20120318-081403.jpg

If you get the chance to attend any of these local dinners, do so, you will love it.

Take a look at Heather’s website and blog. She knows all about the local festivals.

www.sapori-e-saperi.com

20120318-082247.jpg

Casabasciana from above.