The annual festival to celebrate Pinocchio will return this weekend.
This festival is a lot of fun, something for everyone.
The Grotta del Vento, wind cave, is a cave in a mountain in Garfagnana, an area in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. It is near the towns of Fornovalasco and Vergemoli. (About 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca) The cave has 2 entrances, one at 642 metres above sea level and another on the other side of the mountain at 1400 metres.
It is a wind cave because air is able to blow through the cave from one entrance to the other. The direction of the wind depends on the temperature outside the cave. In summer, when the air outside is warmer, the air is drawn through the higher entrance and out of the lower entrance. In winter the reverse happens and the air flows upwards. If the temperature outside is the same as inside there is no wind. The temperature inside the cave stays at around 10.7degrees C all year. A heavy door has now been installed to stop the flow of air, but you can certainly feel it once the door is open.
The cave is open for visitors. There are 3 guided tours available. The first is the one I did. It takes about 1 hour and explores the part of the cave lined with limestone formations. Fascinating stalactites and stalagmites glisten as you walk along the narrow path which takes you deep into the cave.
Just for fun a large skeleton of a bear has been installed near the entrance.
Soon the door is opened and we enter the cave.
The narrow paths are lit and you can see the stalactites and stalagmites and pools of water. There are steps occasionally, but it is not too strenuous and there are hand rails for safety.
You can see some tiny ones beginning to form. It would be necessary to come back in a few hundred years to see much of a difference. Most take about 1000 years to grow 10 centimetres.
At one point the guide turns off the lights so that you can experience total darkness. It is quite an eerie feeling.
The second tour takes 2 hours and a descent is made into an area without limestone formations but interesting forms of erosion on the walls. The third one takes 3 hours in a vertical shaft which is climbed from the bottom to reach a final chamber at the top, followed by a short underground tunnel.
The cave was first discovered in 1989 by children exploring the area. The only one small enough to climb through the entrance was a 4 year old girl. The others opened the entrance a little, but were too frightened to go further than 20 metres into the cave.
The first expedition for research purposes was organised in 1929 by the Florentine Speleogical Grouo of the Italian Alpine Club which stopped at about 60 metres from the entrance by water.
The Bolognese Speleoligical Group got further in 1961 after a prolonged dry spell. Other expeditions followed until 1975 when the explorations extended to 2470 metres and the cave was opened to tourists. Now there are 4 galleries known with at least another 20 branches to be explored.
The guided tours are well organised and the guides are very knowledgeable. There is a shop and a restaurant nearby, so it would be easy to spend several hours here.
See more on the Grotta del Vento website…grottadelvento.com
Summer events continue…
On 1st September there will be a concert in the English Cemetery where the renovation of tombs and monuments continues.
Talk to the people at the information centre in La Villa for more information.
There is always something happening in Bagni di Lucca. It isn’t always easy to find out where and when they are happening.
Here are some events coming up.
There are outdoor movie nights in Cafaggio, Fornoli. The next one is on 26th July. The movie will be Wonder, with Julia Roberts.
Rifugio Fiori in Pieve di Monti di Villa is also having movie showings. Roman Holiday is showing 26th July.
There is a concert at Villa Web on 27th July.
There is a gastronomic walk in Montefegatesi on Sunday 5th August, beginning at 12.00.
Also in Montefegatesi, on Tuesday 14th August will be Apericena in the piazza in Montefegatesi at 7.00pm. Look on Facebook on the Montefegatesi Official Page for more information.
Best of all, the beautiful pool in La Villa should be open on 28th July for one month. It has been undergoing extensive renovations and will come back better than ever. It will close again at the end of August for more work.
This is an old photo. I look forward to seeing the new pool.
If you have an event coming up in Bagni di Lucca please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put it on Bella Bagni di Lucca to help spread the word.
I love these old photos of the villages of Bagni di Lucca. Sometimes there are big changes, and sometimes not. Here is an old photo of the centre of Riolo.
The road in front of the house in the foreground has been widened to allow cars to get through.
The house now has a pergola in front covered in grape vines.
The path leading up from the piazza looks much the same.
The villages of Bagni di Lucca are all interesting, with their own character.
It is always sad news when there are closures in the villages of Bagni di Lucca. The wonderful bar in Montefegatesi closed recently but the residents didn’t take long to fix the situation.
A bar is an important part of these small villages. It is not just a place to have coffee or an aperitivo, it is a place to meet friends, exchange news, have some fun and be part of a community. It is certainly where I met people who became friends and got to know about Bagni di Lucca life when I first came to the area 15 years ago.
The local Circolo in Montefegatesi has been renovated and now houses a brand new bar, which opened recently.
Top marks to the people of Montefegatesi for taking matters into their own hands and congratulations on the excellent new bar.
Thank you Lizzy Ashard for providing the photos of the new bar.
The geraniums on the bridge at Ponte a Serraglio are thriving this year.
I planted them last month and have been taking care of them. There has been some rain, which makes things easier.
I leave for Australia soon and won’t be back until autumn. Annalisa from Bar Italia has kindly offered to let us use her tap beside the bar to water the flowers on the bridge.
I will leave a watering can at the bar. It would be great if anyone interested in keeping the bridge looking good could help out with watering.
Thank you in advance.