Faces at Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio is an incredible spectacle. The amount of organisation any work to pull this event together is huge. The floats are stunning, the costumes are fabulous, the music thrilling, but what I like most is the fun and enthusiasm of the participants and audience.

Here are some of my favourite faces from this year’s event.

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

Carnevale Viareggio 2019

See much more on Carnevale Viareggio on Bagni di Lucca and Beyond.


The slow bells

Slow bells toll when someone dies in our village. The bells ring to announce the funeral and when the body is taken from the church for the last journey.

The bells rang slowly recently for Oriana, one of the lovely old ladies who lived in Ponte a Serraglio. I met her soon after I arrived in the village. She was always ready with a smile and a chat.

She was part of a group of oldish ladies who would gather in the morning for coffee and a good old chinwag.  Several of them are still at the bar every day and there is a cheery “Buongiorno” for me. I haven’t seen Oriana for some time and it appears that she spent the last days of her life in hospital.

There used to be quite a large group of old gentlemen at the bar every morning where they would solve the problems of the world for a few hours, before strolling off home for lunch. This group has dwindled to two or three. I find it very sad to watch them grow old and then disappear one day.

I went to the church to farewell Oriana. She will be missed.


I think it is a lovely tribute to a treasured member of the community. The slow bells allow time to think about the life that has been lived, and recall happy memories.

The end of an era

When I arrived in Ponte a Serraglio last week I was very disappointed to learn that the Barber Shop has closed.

I used to love watching the men lined up there every day for a chat and a haircut or shave.


I don’t know how long Valter had been there, providing what I thought was an essential service in the village, but I think it is quite a while.

He has retired to spend his time enjoying his other interests, including his art.

Apparently Valter tried to find someone to take over, but nobody was interested. In these times of under employment I am surprised and disappointed about this.

Valter, you will be missed.


Click here to see an earlier, and happier post about Valter.

9 handsome men on Ponte a Serraglio

This group of handsome fellows gathered for a photograph on the bridge at Ponte a Serraglio 50 years ago.


In the back row from the left……Roberto Calistri, Aldo Berni, Umberto Lenzini, Liliano Saivetti and Benito

In the front….Vito Lorenzelli, Sandro Fazzi, Renzo Moschino and Amelio Bianchi.

Some are no longer with us, some have moved away…..but I found 2 handsome chaps still here.


On the left is Vito Lorenzelli and to his right is Roberto Calistri.

Vito happily showed me the original photo and gave me the names. I will need to be reminded of Benito’s cognome. Vito is now back in Scotland, where he lives for most of the year. I see Roberto regularly at the Ponte with his delightful granddaughter Agnese, my favourite little Ponte person.


Meet Tina from Ponte a Serraglio

Tina was one of the first people I met when I came to Ponte a Serraglio, lucky me. She has been a great help to us in all things, in fact, our lives here would have been much more difficult if not for Tina. She knows everything worth knowing about Bagni di Lucca….and she speaks perfect English.

Tina’s mother was from Bagni di Lucca, and her father came from Piacenza, but she was born in New York. Her father died when she was young, and at 12 years of age she came with her mother to live at Ponte a Serraglio in 1949, in the lean years after the war. I asked her to tell me some of what she remembers of her life in the village.

Tina arrived after the war, but memories were still fresh then. There was a lot of fighting in the area. Remnants of the Gottica Line can still be seen nearby.

The Ponte a Serraglio piazza was damaged during World War 11. The retreating Germans destroyed the bridge and a temporary one was put in by the Allied Troops. Tina’s grandmother told of an incident involving the over enthusiastic use of dynamite to widen the road to allow tanks through, which resulted in the near destruction of several buildings in the square. The front of our building also suffered some damage, but was able to be repaired.

What is now the Bar Italia and the Bridge Hotel were rebuilt in 1951 – 1952 along with the new bridge. Things slowly improved in the 1950s when buildings were repaired and painted and by the 1960s Ponte a Serraglio was a thriving town.

There were 3 grocery stores, 2 fruit and vegetable shops, 2 butchers, a pharmacy, 2 hairdressers and 2 barbers, a hardware store, 2 bakeries, a fabric store and one that sold sewing machines, a cigarette and cigar store, a shoe store, shoe repairers and bicycle repairs and a bank.

As well as the 2 bars, which are still operating, there were 3 osterias to provide meals and places for people to gather and socialise.

At the time ready to wear clothing was still not popular and there were a few seamstresses in the village. Not everyone had a well equipped kitchen and people would take their roast dinners and cakes and biscuits to the bakeries to be cooked after the bread was done for the day. One of the cooks was particularly good with biscuits and quite a few of hers never made it home.

There was a police station near Villa Fiori which supplied a source of eligible men for the village. New recruits were quickly snapped up by the local girls.

I asked Tina what happened to all the shops and businesses as there are very few left. She said it was a combination of things. Before the war families had lots of children. Tina told me that the school she attended wasn’t big enough to hold all the children and some of them were sent to a nearby building for their lessons. The school building is still there, but is now empty and in need of serious renovation. It would make a great apartment building.

During the 1950s and 1960s there were fewer babies born. Most families had only 1 or 2. This coupled with young people slowly moving away to find better paid work than was offered in the few factories in the area, meant that the population slowly declined and the businesses couldn’t survive.

Tina remembers that there was still a horse and carriage to take people to the station and to make deliveries when she was young. One of the first cars to appear after the war was a Fiat Cinquecento, which must have caused a bit of excitement.

Foreigners, like us, are now moving into the area and buying the empty houses and apartments. While this may not be the perfect solution, I think is better than having the village die. It is good to see the houses lived in and gardens growing again. Our little piazza is constantly full with locals and people from all over the world. We have English, Australian, Norwegian, Brazilian, Finnish, American, Dutch and lots of other nationalities chattering to each other in the bar and I think it is great. It is still an authentic Italian village and I don’t think any of the foreigners want to change anything.

I would love to have seen Ponte a Serraglio in its heyday, it must have been a lively, fun place. I think it is delightful now and buying our apartment near the bridge has been a wonderful thing, allowing us to spend several months a year in the village.

If you see Tina at Bar Italia, say hello. She often sits with a group of lovely Ponte ladies.

The photo below was taken in early 2018. The next one is an earlier photo.



Renzo and the dog with no name

As we were driving into Guzzano, a tiny hamlet which is part of the area of Bagni di Lucca called Controneria, we spotted a shepherd watching his flock of sheep and goats. His trusty dog was on guard to make sure that none escaped. None tried, the new spring grass was keeping them busy.

We parked the car and walked back to talk to the shepherd whose name was Renzo.



Renzo told us that he lives in nearby San Cassiano and likes to bring his animals down the mountain along one of the old tracks to feed. Guzzano residents are happy with the arrangement as it means they don’t have to mow the grass.





Renzo’s animals are beautifully cared for. That white billy goat looks as though he has been brushed.

When I asked the dog’s name Renzo just shrugged. The dog is very young and inexperienced, perhaps he has to earn his name.

Being a shepherd must be good for you. Renzo is a fine looking man in excellent condition.


I tried really hard to get him to smile for the camera. He has the most delightful smile.

As we wandered around to the other side of Guzzano we saw the little group head back up the mountain.



I hope there are young people prepared to keep these pastimes alive.