A nearby festival

Most festivals in Italy have not happened over the last 2 years because of Covid. It is encouraging to see this about to change this year.

We dropped in briefly to an olive oil festival in Valdottavo on Sunday.

We were there early and wandered through the pretty main street of the town to see lots of stalls set up.

The first stand had a familiar face. This family also runs the wonderful fruit and vegetable shop in Ponte a Serraglio. We picked up a few supplies on the way out.

We gathered a few other things on our walk through the town, including olive oil, a fennel disgestivo and some locally made sausages. It is a good way to get to know local growers and producers.

We had to leave before lunch which was a pity. Long tables were being set up and I’m sure the food would have been delicious.

Valdottavo is a pretty, well kept town with some impressive buildings. I think it needs another visit.

A treasure nearby

I was invited to visit a beautiful palazzo in Ghivizzano, an ancient village not far from Bagni di Lucca. Palazzo Buonvisi is set into the medieval wall on the edge of the village.

Like all old buildings in the area it has an interesting past. It eventually came into the hands of the Nuti family the 16th century. They changed it from a fortified palace into a hunting lodge. In 1648 through a marriage between the Nuti and Buonvisi families the building doubled in size.

After a time it became a boarding school for girls at the behest of Monsignor Camilli who was born in Ghivizzano. He later became Bishop of Fiesole.

The ownership of the palazzo finally returned to the descendents of the Buonvisi family who have restored the beauty of the building.

After entering the portico into Ghivizzano, to the right is a tunnel on the inside of the wall.

A little further on is the entrance to the Palazzo Buonvisi.

There is a small courtyard in front of the palazzo.

The interior of the house takes the viewer back in time. Much of the furnishing and decoration is centuries old and in remarkable condition.

The bedrooms…


The bathrooms have stunning marble basins. The showers and plumbing are modern…which is a good thing.

The kitchen is fabulous, what a great place to have breakfast.

There is a tiny chapel behind doors.

There are beautiful sitting and dining rooms.

When layers of paint were scraped off some old doors the original decoration was revealed.


On the bottom floor, down stone stairs, is a spa with a sauna, jacuzzi and showers.

Across the road in front of the palazzo is a stunning walled garden with a pool, old well and a kitchen. I love the sculptures tucked into the trees.

The views from the house are gorgeous.


Stunning Palazzo Buonvisi is now available for rent…what a fabulous place to stay and experience the past glory of Italy with modern comforts!

Palazza Buonvisi…http://www.palazzobuonvisi.com

My Ferragosto

Ferragosto Is a public holiday for all of Italy. Emperor Augustus made the 1st August a holiday to reward agricultural workers after weeks of hard work. Centuries later the Catholic Church moved the day of festivities to the 15th August, the Assumption of Mary, to include it in the celebrations.

Just about everyone is on the move on Ferragosto, either going to or coming from holidays, heading for the beach or the mountains and gathering with friends and family. It is a good day to stay off the roads. Autostrade can turn into car parks and traffic jams are everywhere…and it is hot!

This year I was very lucky to be invited for lunch with friends in the hills behind Bagni di Lucca. The house is accessible by a road used by almost nobody, no traffic snarls for us.

You know lunch is going to be good when you can see a wood fired oven smoking.

The house is hundreds of years old and is hidden in a chestnut forest.

I love the huge flat rock dragged into the yard to be used as a table. I needs to be level before that happens.

The first delights to come from the oven were potato, herb and parmesan slices.

Home made pasta followed.


There was crunchy bread.

Roast chicken and ribs.

All the roasted vegetables came from the orto.

A vegetable tart appeared and quickly disappeared.

Next was a delicious fig and nut tart.

After lunch there was some serious resting and conversation…what a perfect way to spend Ferragosto. I feel very privileged to be included in these celebrations.

This summer has been very hot, especially in the last few weeks. The flowers on my balcony and on the bridge have been a big disappointment. The flowers are straggly and nothing I do seems to make a difference. The bees don’t seem to mind though. At least someone is happy with them.

I like to listen to podcasts and recently I was asked to be part of one. My friend Andrea Waterhouse is doing a series of podcasts about Lucca and invited me to chat with her about my thoughts on living in the area. The podcasts are called Life in Lucca with Andrea.

If you don’t have a podcast app you can listen on Andrea’s website…lifeinlucca.podbean.com

Art exhibition at Albergo La Corona

Two local artists are holding an exhibition at the Albergo La Corona in Ponte a Seraglio. Morena Guarnaschelli and Deenagh Miller will be showing their work from 30th July until 13th August.

They will have an opening celebration on 30th July from 6.00pm.

I managed to chop off the phone number for the hotel, which is a good thing because it is incorrect. Here is the correct number. 0583 923762.

Food fair

La Corona hotel, in conjunction with Fiorenzo Consulting, has organised a food fair to be held in the garden of Villa Fiori in Ponte a Serraglio on July 4 from midday until 8.00pm. Lots of local producers will be showing their wares. It sounds like a fun event.

Come along to try local food and wine. It is excellent to see new initiatives in Bagni di Lucca.

Village walks

Last year I went on several guided walks organised by the Comune and they were excellent. It is great to know they will be happening again this summer. It is a delightful way to discover more about the beautiful villages that make up Bagni di Lucca.

The groups are restricted to 10 people and last year were well attended so book early by calling 335 5821084. The guided walks are free and the commentary is in Italian.

The Albergo Corona, in conjunction with Fiorenzo Consulting and our wonderful local historian Virgilio Contrucci, is organising guided walks to discover the history of Bagni di Lucca.

The first one will be about the Grand Tour, a time when English people came to Bagni di Lucca as part of their travel to Italy. There will be 2 walks in this category. The first walk will be on 13th June and the second 1st August leaving the Corona Hotel at 9.30am. The cost of €40 will include a light lunch at the Corona Hotel at the conclusion of the walk. The commentary will be in Italian with English translation.

The second history walk will be about aristocrats and artists who helped shape Bagni di Lucca. There will be 2 walks in this category, the first on 19th June and the second on 1st August beginning at 9.30am. The €40 cost will include a light lunch at the Corona Hotel at the conclusion of the walk. The commentary will be in Italian with English translation.

The third group of walks will be about Puccini who spent some time in Bagni di Lucca during his career. The first walk will be on 26th June, the second on 24th July and the third on 15th August, all beginning at the 5.00pm. The guided walk will be followed by apericena at the Corona Hotel. The commentary will be in Italian with English translation.

The fourth group of walks will be in Montefegatesi, the first on 17th July and the second on 25th August at 5.00pm. Participants will gather at the Corona Hotel to be driven in a small bus to Montefegatesi where the walk will begin. The walks will conclude with aperitivo in the shadow of the Dante Alighieri monument at the top of beautiful Montefegatesi, the highest village in Bagni di Lucca.

All walks will take approximately 3 hours. To make further enquires or to book a tour please call 0583 923762 or email LaCorona.bookings@outlook.com