Raft race

On Sunday the local raft groups raced each other from Chifenti, where the Lima River meets the Serchio River, to the gorgeous Ponte della Maddelena.

I missed the race, but Montefegatesi photographer David Bonaventura was on hand to get get some great photos.

David Bonaventura

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura Photo

David Bonaventura photo

David Bonaventura photo

It looked like a fun day despite the less than perfect weather. I think the boys in the white raft won.

Bridge reflections

There can never be too many photos of the magnificent Ponte della Maddalena. Sometimes you can be very lucky and find the river below as smooth as glass, offering gorgeous reflections.

Devil's bridge

Devil's bridge

Devil's bridge

Devil's bridge

Devil's bridge

Devil's bridge

Devil's bridge

Walk to the top for beautiful views of the valley.

Devil's bridge

Devil's bridge

Devil's bridge

I love this bridge…when I see it I know I am not far from Bagni di Lucca.

 

Halloween

Halloween is a good excuse for a party. Annalisa threw a fun dress-up party at Bar Italia in Ponte a Serraglio.

Halloween Bar ItaliaThere was an interesting cast of characters.

Halloween Bar Italia

Please note the headless doll in the photo below.

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Later in the evening we headed off to Borgo a Mozzano for the famous party which ends in fireworks at the Ponte a Maddelena.

The streets were very crowded, the lighting patchy, so my photos mostly didn’t turn out well.

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

There were some great costumes. I was particularly impressed by a fellow with an axe through his head and several strings of sausages around his neck. No photos…he got away too quickly.

We shuffled along with the rest of the crowd towards the bridge at the appointed hour. As we arrived a figure swathed in white was being carried to the top of the bridge. Her head fell off on the way, appropriate under the circumstances. She was duly put back together and thrown off the bridge…a sign for the fireworks to get under way.

Halloween Borgo a Mizzano

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

The audience was enthralled.

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

Halloween Borgo a Mozzano

I have been wanting to attend the celebrations at Borgo a Mozzano for many years. I have now done so and will be content with that one visit.

Finally, a clean up

The Ponte della Maddalena is the most recognisable structure in our area. It is a 900 year old treasure.

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It is possible to see in this photo some of the build up of debris on the buttresses of the  bridge. We have had lots of rain over the last 12 months and the river has been carrying lots of rubbish along with it and quite a bit has gathered around the base of the bridge.

Finally, the clean up has begun. The river has been diverted and the tree branches and other bits and pieces are being removed.

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It is good to see the Ponte della Maddalena being looked after. I never tire of looking at this amazing bridge every time I pass. I often stop and walk across and enjoy the view from the top as well. Let’s hope it is here for another 900 years.

Francis has written about the clean up too on his blog. Click here to see his report.

Wild weather

We have had some very wild weather in Bagni di Lucca and the mountains around us. On Sunday night there was an enormous storm which dumped heavy rain on the area. Roads have been closed, and some are still closed. There has been damage to property and some villages remain cut off from main roads.

There was another smaller storm last night, but I haven’t heard of any further damage. The sun has appeared today. With a bit of luck it will stick around for a while.

Here are a few pictures of the muddy river in Ponte a Serraglio.

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The river looked a bit more calm today. It is still high, but it is not rushing past so quickly.

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The road to Lucca is cut past Borgo a Mozzano. Until yesterday it was cut from Chifenti as water had flooded the road to Ponte a Maddalena. It was open today so I went to the bridge to take a look at the river from there.

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You can see how high the river is in the following photo. It is right at the top of the weir.

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I walked to the top of the bridge. Two days ago there was a metre of water covering the road below and in the shops and houses beside the road.

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If you go to YouTube and look for Serchio in Piena there are several videos of the damaging floods.

I hope the people who have suffered damage get back to normal soon.

Ponte della Maddalena…..Devil’s Bridge

Ponte Maddalena

While this gorgeous bridge is not actually in Bagni di Lucca it is synonymous with the area, and a perfect introduction to our villages . The very beautiful Ponte Diavolo crosses the Serchio river at Borgo a Mozzano, just 4 kilometres before Bagni di Lucca.

The bridge was thought to be commissioned by the Countess Matilda of Tuscany around 1080 – 1100 to enable people to cross the Serchio and get access to the spas in Bagno di Corsena, as Bagni di Lucca was then called.

The name Ponte Maddalena comes from a life size image of Maddalena, a painting from the Della Robbia school, which was in an oratory at the foot of the bridge. You can now see it in the Church of S. Jacopo in Borgo a Mozzano.

The bridge’s more popular name, Devil’s Bridge, comes from the legend from the time of Saint Julian, the protector of travellers. The devil was asked for help to construct the bridge and in return he was offered the soul of whoever crossed the bridge first. Saint Julian arranged for a dog to cross the bridge for the first time.

In 1836 a flood damaged the bridge and it required significant repairs. An extra arch was added in the early 1900s to make more room for a surfaced roadway.

spring at Ponte della Maddalena

beside the bridge

a perfect reflection

the main arch is 18.5 metres high

looking down from the top

looking towards Bagni di Lucca

from the top

a perfect spring day

looking towards Borgo a Mozzano

the beautiful Serchio valley

Lucky for us it is still intact and it is possible to walk across the bridge and to admire the excellent view from the highest arch.

The bridge takes on a completely different look in winter. I think it looked wonderful in 2011 with the huge flag put there to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

a rainy day at Ponte della Maddalena

even the ducks are impressed

There is a car park beside the bridge to allow you to stop for a while. I tried walking there from Bagni di Lucca once, but that was a bit scary. There is no footpath and the road is narrow and I was shouted at by drivers. There is a bus stop there, so if you can coordinate the buses, that would be an option. Walking from Borgo a Mozzano is a bit less dramatic.

I think the perfect solution would be a footpath constructed beside the road, over the river, which would give excellent pedestrian access…… is anyone listening?