A walk in Bagno alla Villa

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.

Further on is the house where Montaigne stayed in the summer of 1571.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A walk in Cocciglia and Pallegio

On Sunday I joined another of the guided walks to some of the villages that make up Bagni di Lucca. This time the walk took us to Cocciglia and nearby Pallegio.

We began at the bottom of Cocciglia.


First there was a small detour to Ponte Nero, the old bridge that crosses the Lima River at Strette di Cocciglia.

From the bridge you can see the stunning Strette di Cocciglia, a beautiful part of the river,  now the home of Canyon Park adventures.


We were able to see inside the Oratorio di San Rocco, the little church dating from 1532, at the beginning of the bridge.

Then it was back to the path towards Cocciglia. The village was named after a late Roman settler called Caucilius or Cocilius. Along the way we saw some well kept farm plots and this very stylish little shrine.


Just before the path that takes you up the hill to Cocciglia is the Oratorio San Michele, dating from the 13th century, with its well kept cemetery.


Across from the Oratorio is the path to the village. This was the only way to the village before the road was built in the not too distant past.

 




From the path there is a good view of Pallegio, the village we visited next.


Our first stop at the beginning of the village was here.

We walked along a tiny laneway where the wall was covered with caper plants.

Cocciglia is a maze of tiny streets with archways and tunnels, the remnants of old defence gateways into the town. Houses are tucked inside these structures. The doors to keep enemies out are long gone, but you can see where they were.

This wall of a house is ancient. It could tell some stories.

We kept going up towards the parish church dedicated to San Bartolommeo.

Some of the construction is Roman with additions in medieval times.


 

You can see the repairs and additions in this wall at the base of the church.

We arrived at the top of Cocciglia.

In the church is a cross depicting the crucifixion.

From the top we walked down the road to drive to Pallegio. Before the town is the Oratorio di Santa Maria della Quercia, with a stunning interior. These precious churches have to be firmly locked to prevent theft of the treasures inside.




From here we walked down a leafy path to the Ponte Vecchio, the old bridge, part of the ancient path between Cocciglia and Pallegio.

Just past the bridge is a remnant of the Roman path.

On one of the stones is the mark of the man who placed it all those years ago. It is amazing to me that I can stand on a path that has existed for 2000 years or more.

Further up the hill is the tiny town of Pallegio.
Very few people now live in the village and the parish church is now closed. We stopped for refreshments and spoke to some of the friendly people from the town. It would be sad to see these villages become empty. Let’s hope some people come to buy the old houses and bring new life.


 


 

 


On the walk back to the car there were excellent views of Cocciglia and Casoli in the distance.

…a last look at Pallegio.

Once again the walk was great fun and very informative. Thank you to Antonio and Virgilio for sharing their love and knowledge of these beautiful villages. We are so lucky to have these intact, authentic places to explore in Bagni di Lucca.

There are more walks to come.

Summer walks in Bagni di Lucca

Several guided walks to help us learn more about our lovely villages have been organised over the next few weeks.

The first one is tomorrow in Vico Pancellorum. Call 0583 809945 to see if there some places left. Only 10 people at a time can join. The group will gather in front of Circolo dei Forestieri at 9.00am before being taken to the destination.

This is a great initiative. I hope the walks will be well patronised.

Be sure to call for more information or to book a place.

The pool opens Saturday 4th July

Excellent news! Our beautiful pool in Bagni di Lucca opens for the season Saturday 4th July from 9.00am until 19.00. Call 339 2376523 for more information.

This pool is surely in the most stunning position…an excellent asset for Bagni di Lucca.

As well as this good news, free Wifi is now available in many areas in La Villa.

Auser reopening

The excellent shop in Ponte a Serraglio that sells a wonderful selection of second hand household items is open on Saturdays and Sundays…10.00 – 12.00 and 15.00 – 18.00.

Anyone setting up house in the area would to well to drop in and see the beautiful items they have for sale at excellent prices. An added benefit is that the profits are used to help people in need.

There simply must be something you need in this collection.


 

The clothing section of the shop is not open yet, but will happen in the future. 


Auser Is on the road between Ponte a Serraglio and La Villa, not far from Ristorante da Bruno. The Auser Association runs the shop and takes its name from an old name for the Serchio river.

 

 

La Corona, a new opening

We are very excited at Ponte a Serraglio to see the opening of La Corona, the newly renovated hotel and restaurant.

Perhaps the name is a little unfortunate right now, but the up side it is easy to remember.

We arrived just as heavy rain began. This was a pity as the outside areas of the hotel are lovely. I will show you those on a better day. We gathered in the brand new bar area.

There was delightful entertainment.

We were taken up to the first floor to see some of the rooms of the hotel. There are 15 rooms and they look great. Each room is decorated individually, with well appointed bathrooms. Several rooms have views over the river, with great views and a couple have their own balcony.

 


My good friend Tina and I were the first guests in the beautiful restaurant.

The food was excellent. We began with a selection of Tuscan delights.

We both chose the risotto.

Tina had pork belly with crustaceans.

 

I enjoyed the guinea fowl on a bed of chestnut bread.

La Corona is an excellent addition to Ponte a Seraglio. I wish everyone involved the best and hope they get lots of visitors soon.

There was huge storm last night which began while we were at the restaurant. It settled a bit, but in the middle of the night I was woken by the noise of the river rushing past my window. The water was as high and as turbulent as I have ever seen it. This morning the river had settled a lot, but it was still brown and flowing quickly under the bridge.

Unfortunately the forecast is for another week of stormy weather. I hope the weather bureau is wrong on this.

La Corona…Ponte a Serraglio.

http://www.lacoronabdl.com

My first sit down coffee

For the first time since 10th March I was able to sit down at Bar Italia to enjoy a coffee and sfoglia with a friend for breakfast.

It was dull day at Ponte a Serraglio, but that was no problem at all.

I forgot to photograph my sfoglia, but the rest is here. I can report that the bar is well organised with health concerns taken care of. We sat outside and there was lots of space between tables.

 

 

 



The geraniums are enjoying the rain and are growing. It is great to be able to visit Ponte a Serraglio!

The opening begins. Let’s hope it continues!

 

Ponte flowers

This morning I planted the geraniums on the bridge at Ponte a Serraglio. I was happy to see Bar Italia open for takeaway. The fresh food shop next door was open and busy. The pharmacy had a well spaced queue in front and the Tabacchi was open. Life is beginning to return to the piazza.

It was a beautiful spring morning.

 


I left the yellow pansies because they have some life left in them. With some luck they will last until the geraniums grow bigger.

 

A good news story

The people who run and work at the Auser Bagni di Lucca in Ponte a Serraglio are no longer at work in the shops, so they have redirected their energies into making masks. Many are made from wonderful linen sheets donated by generous people.

They are not meant to offer total protection from Covid 19, but anything that helps even a little is welcome. They can be washed and reused.

They are being distributed to those who want them with the delivery of food.

We need good news stories. Now is not the time to spread conspiracy theories and silly supposed protections and remedies. Take advice from doctors, professionals and official directives.  Unfortunately the internet is full of rubbish. 

I am at our remote house in Garfagnana for the duration of the lockdown. I really miss my morning coffee and sfoglia at Bar Italia. Let’s hope life can go back to normal soon.