Beautiful trees

Spring has been odd this year, but finally everything is turning green. Frassino, or flowering ash trees don’t flower every year, but this year they are spectacular.

It is possible to see the beautiful white flowers dotted all over the hillsides around Bagni di Lucca.

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

It has been interesting to watch the developing leaves and flowers.

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Frassino trees

Spring is a delightful time to be in Tuscany.

Liberation Day

Giorno della Liberazione or Festa della Resistenza is celebrated in Italy on 25th April. It recognises the end of the Italian Civil War and the end of Nazi occupation of Italy in WWII in April 1945.

The liberation led to a referendum on June 2nd which resulted in the end of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic.

April 25th was designated a national holiday in 1949 by Alcide De Gaspari, the last Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy.

There are celebrations all over Italy to mark the day. There are marching bands, parades and political rallies.

We attended an event in Vergemoli in Garfagnana. It seems difficult to believe that this tiny town with a population of about 100 people was caught up in the conflict, but the most northern of the fortifications the German army built across Italy, the Gothic Line, went right through the area.

Old army vehicles assembled in front of the comune.

Inside there was a collection of old photos. The tiny village saw lots of action and the village itself was bombed.

The photos are by Attilio Viziano.

Here you can see Vergemoli being bombed.

The people in front of this air raid shelter look remarkably cheerful.

Vergemoli

This is a photo of Vergemoli. It is interesting to note that there are no forests around the town as there are today. All the land was cultivated in those days. The hills were planted with wheat, grape vines and vegetables. No doubt this helped the people survive the horrors of war.

I can’t imagine having to live through what these people did. What a pity we don’t seem to learn enough from past conflicts.

A book has been put together by Andrea Giannasi and Moreno Maffucci about the Gothic Line in Garfagnana where these photos and more have been included.

We bought it even though it is in Italian. It will be good practice to try to read it.

Cool clear water

The rivers and streams are full of fast flowing water at this time of year. It is heartening to see that it is clean and clear.

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

The colour of the water changes, depending on melting snow and the amount of rain. There are some amazing colours in the river on the way into the Garfagnana.

Garfagnana

Garfagnana

Garfagnana

I pass this river every time I go to our mountain house. It is always beautiful.

It is raining today, more water to fill the rivers.

Castiglione di Garfagnana

After I left Pieve Fosciana I drove a little further on to Castiglione di Garfagnana which sits at 545 metres above the Esarulo River, a tributary of the Serchio River.

Castiglione di Garfagnana

The town dates back to a Roman Castra, called Castrum Leonis (Lion’s Castle), built to oversee the valley that leads to the San Pelligrino Pass. The castle was built between1170 and 1227. It became Lucca’s most important garrison in the Serchio valley. In 1390 the “Rocca” or castle was extended and towers were built.

Some of the Rocca remains and you can walk through the narrow streets of the town to the top.

There is a road around the edge of the town outside the wall, offering excellent views of the castle and the surrounding countryside.Castiglione di Garfagnan

I entered the town through the Porta del Ponte Levatoio. It was mid afternoon and the town was deserted, leaving me to wander alone.

Castiglione di Garfagnana

I went up into the old castle for some gorgeous views over the town.

Castiglione di Garfagnana

Coming down from the top I came across the Church of San Pietro which was built in 723 by 2 Lombard brothers, but was rebuilt in the 12th century by Bishop Guido of Lucca.

Castiglione di Garfagnana

Castiglione di Garfagnana

I walked on through the pretty streets as it began to rain.

Castiglione di Garfagnana

Castiglione di Garfagnana

I will return when the town is a bit busier, I am sure there is more to discover.

 

 

Il Pozzo

Bagni di Lucca is on the edge of the Garfagnana. The area lies between the Apennine and Apuan Alps in the upper valley of the Serchio river. It is almost entirely mountainous and heavily wooded.

It is also dotted with pretty villages, which will take years to discover. I recently visited Pieve Fosciana. It is tiny, with a cluster of houses around the church of St John Battista, one of the most ancient in Garfagnana.

Come for a little walk through Pieve Fosciana…

There are lots of narrow cobble stone laneways and pretty gardens, the usual interesting doorways and building decorations.

Pieve Fosciana

Pieve Fosciana

I was impressed with this house in particular. The residents have gone to some trouble with the facade.

Pieve Fosciana

Pieve Fosciana

The main reason for my visit to Pieve Fosciana was to try restaurant Il Pozzo. I have heard it is one of the best in Garfagnana.

Il Pozzo Pieve Fosciana

They have an indoor dining area and a very big terrace. I was the first there for lunch, but it soon filled up, mostly with local workers. You know a restaurant is good when the locals arrive in number.

Il Pozzo Pieve Fosciana

Il Pozzo Pieve Fosciana

Il Pozzo Pieve FoscianaThe restaurant prides itself on using fresh, local ingredients served in a traditional way, with a slightly modern twist.

Il Pozzo Pieve Fosciana

I ordered the pasta with lobster.

Il Pozzo Pieve Fosciana

Followed by guinea fowl with truffles…they were both excellent.

Il Pozzo Pieve Fosciana

The service was very friendly and I could see that most of the other patrons were regulars. They also do a workmans’ lunch for a set price…I will try that next time.

If you can drag yourself away from the very good restaurants in Bagni di Lucca, try Il Pozzo, I’m sure you will like it.