An afternoon well spent

We were invited by Federica and Alessandro from Amazing Lucca to join an afternoon walk through the tiny village of Gattaiola, just outside Lucca. We set off with a lovely couple from Moscow on a little adventure.

We began our walk at the ancient church at Gattaiola.

We followed a pretty path to one of the villas dating from the 16th century that are scattered along the winding paths. There were once 300 villas around Lucca. About 100 remain in various states of repair.

The first one we came to was well maintained with a lovely garden.

We walked past vineyards and old farmhouses.

The next villa was spectacular, Villa Rossi. It is privately owned but the first couple of floors are sometimes open to visitors. http://www.villarossilucca.it 

This gentleman had connections to Napoleon III and was an artist and sculptor.

The rooms are stunning…

…especially the ballroom and nearby rooms and bedrooms.

…and the lovely terrace, now enclosed.

The current owner is an author and her father was a partisan in WWII and was involved in politics after the war. Federica had lots of interesting information about the family.

We left via the garden, vacation apartments and the old front entrance.

A pretty road led back to the church.

There are many abandoned buildings, reminders of a busier time.

We got a fine view of Lucca.

It was a surprise to find an open area surrounded by a rocky cliff after a walk through the forest.

The rest of the party walked along the path to the top where they tried some olive oil…you can just see the olive trees growing at the top. Not being a fan of uphill walking I waited at the church.

Our final stop was a charming family owned vineyard and winery, Fratelli Urbani, begun in 1896 by Massimo Urbani. He was one of the first to bottle wine in the Lucca Province. http://www.fratelliurbani.com

We learned about the types of grapes and some of the family history from the delightful Francesca.

The vineyard is beautifully kept and there are gorgeous views of the countryside.

We went into the tiny cellar to learn more about the winemaking and the vineyard history.

Aperitivo with 2 types of wine and delicious antipasti followed.

A cold wind blew in and signalled the end of the visit.

Thank you Federica and Alessandro for inviting us to be part of your tour. I have lived near Lucca for almost 16 years and had no idea this lovely area was so close to the town. It is wonderful to discover hidden secrets.

Take a look at Amazing Lucca…Click the link…http://www.amazing-Lucca.com

Federica…(39) 338 7901829

Alessandro…(39) 3402 798654

As well as gentle, informative tours like this one, they can take you on an adventure tour in the nearby mountains.

The name Gattaiola is a bit odd. It translates in English as “cat door, or cat flap” but there is another explanation. It seems to have come from “grata aiola” which means fertile, prosperous soil. That makes much more sense.

This weekend

We are enjoying some welcome rain today in Bagni di Lucca. It should help the local fire situation.

As much as we need the rain, a fine weekend would be welcome. The annual walk from Fornoli will happen this Sunday, 7th April.

Bagni di Lucca walk

You can begin in Fornoli and walk for 2 kilometres or more. The longest walk is 20 kilometres. Just roll up and register from 7.30am.

It is a lot of fun and there are refreshments provided along the way.

The wonderful garden event, Verdemura, is on again this week in Lucca. It begins on Friday at midday and continues Saturday and Sunday. It is held on the stunning wall of Lucca near the Santa Anna entrance.

Verdemura

I’m sure both events will be popular and well attended.

Lucca cathedral renewed

The impressive San Martino cathedral in Lucca has had its facade cleaned recently. On my last visit it was covered in scaffolding. I was happy to see it uncovered and looking wonderful.

San Martino Lucca

The church was begun around 1070 and has had many additions over the centuries. The facade was started in 1204. There are 3 magnificent arches with open galleries above adorned with sculptures.

San Martino Lucca

San Martino Lucca

San Martino Lucca

There is a legend to explain why the columns on the facade are different. When the residents of Lucca wanted to decorate the facade they began a competition and invited artists to create a column. Many artists created columns and the residents decided not to select a winner but used all the columns and didn’t pay the artists.

The labrynth embedded in the right pier of the portico is believed to date from the 12th or 13th century.

San Martino Lucca

The original of the sculpture of San Martino, who was a knight on horseback, dates from 1233 and is inside the cathedral. The one on the facade is a copy.

San Martino Lucca

I’ll take you inside in another post.

 

Amazing Lucca

It is always great to hear about young Italians starting a business. It can be very difficult to get a new enterprise up and running in Italy.

I was delighted to meet Federica, who, along with her husband, has set up an adventure tour business in Lucca called Amazing Lucca.

Federica Amazing Lucca

As I walked with Federica she told me of their love and passion for the area and their desire to introduce people to a side of Italy they might not otherwise enjoy. With a minimum of 2 people and no more than 12, they will guide you through Renaissance villas, medieval churches, stunning countryside, vineyards and glorious mountains.

On foot, or on a mountain bike you can discover secret places off the beaten track with people who know the area. Meet locals and taste the produce of this incredible land. Trudge or ride up rugged mountains and find hidden streams, enjoy enchanted forests and breathtaking landscapes. Federica and Alessandro will guide to to spectacular places.

Alessandro is the mountain bike guide and Federica is the nature and walking guide. Even if you live in the area this would be fun, but what a great way to introduce your visiting friends to the area.

The tours are graded from easy to demanding, meaning there is something to suit everyone.

Take a look at their excellent website. It is in Italian and English.

http://www.amazing-Lucca.com

Via Del Campaccio, Lucca.

info@amazing-lucca.com

Federica…(39) 338 7901829

Alessandro…(39) 340 2798654

Book launch, Buying and Restoring in Tuscany

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.

David Collins 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.

http://www.ourtoscana.com

Flowers and art in Lucca

The annual flower display in conjunction with the celebration for Saint Zita is on in Lucca right now.

As well as the display in front of the San Frediano church, the anfiteatro is full of gorgeous plants available for sale. It is a lovely time to be in the piazza.

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

The flowers will be in the anfiteatro until Friday this week.

Sculptures by artist Jimenez Deredia are being installed in various locations around Lucca. We found some beside the San Michele church and Piazza San Martino.

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

The art pieces will be on display until 10th September…plenty of time to find them.

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Verdemura, Lucca garden event

Verdemura, the annual garden show started today on the wall of Lucca. It is in a new spot near Porta San Donato and Porta Santa Anna.

Verdemura 2018

There were not quite as many plants as last year. I think this cold spring has held back plant growth. There is still plenty to see and buy and it was a glorious day…perfect for some time on the wall.

Verdemura 2018

Verdemura 2018

Verdemura 2018

Of course there is also food…cheese, salumi and a happy face.

Verdemura continues tomorrow and Sunday. Entry is €6.

Verdemura 2018