WWII in Villa Fiori Park

I walked across the passerella in Ponte a Serraglio bright and early on Saturday morning to the Villa Fiori Park.

Ponte a Serraglio

The park had been set up to resemble a military camp. Tents, supplies were already there and some vehicles, with more to come.

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

These are well kept vehicles.

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

The soldiers looked pretty good too.

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

I think being involved in a war would be wretched. I would like to think that occasionally in the misery, soldiers might have actually enjoyed a lovely spring day away from battle grounds in a green space like this. It is possible that they did, Bagni di Lucca was heavily involved in the fighting. There is still evidence of the Gothic Line, the most northerly of the defence lines built by the Germans, in the area.

This excellent display was organised by the Ass.ne Linea Gotica della Lucchesia.

Casino event

Ineke’s Mitten

Our area is now so quiet and peaceful it is difficult to think that it was once heavily involved in the battles of WWII. The Gothic Line was a German defensive line built from Pisa to Rimini and it went through the northern Apennine Mountains around Bagni di Lucca. There is still evidence today of the fortifications built in the area.

Charles McNamara has written a novel, Ineke’s Mitten, about two friends, Norwegian Nels Torkle and Italian Alberto Bisio, who are sent towards the end of the war to fight near Lucca, Bisio’s home town.

The novel tell how two men, forced to hide in America from the Germans during WWII join the Tenth Mountain Division and are sent to train in the mountains of Colorado. Finally, not long before the end of the war, they are sent into combat in Europe.

In early 1945 the division is sent to Lucca in a desperate attempt to dislodge the Germans from their mountain strongholds. The commanders rely on the two friends to find an attack route up a dangerous cliff called Riva Ridge. Because of their efforts, the Germans are sent fleeing from their final stronghold in Europe.

I think it is always interesting to read about events that take place in a familiar area. I’m sure Charles’ book brings to life a very difficult time in our beautiful mountains.

Ineke's Mitten


Liberation Day

Giorno della Liberazione or Festa della Resistenza is celebrated in Italy on 25th April. It recognises the end of the Italian Civil War and the end of Nazi occupation of Italy in WWII in April 1945.

The liberation led to a referendum on June 2nd which resulted in the end of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic.

April 25th was designated a national holiday in 1949 by Alcide De Gaspari, the last Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy.

There are celebrations all over Italy to mark the day. There are marching bands, parades and political rallies.

We attended an event in Vergemoli in Garfagnana. It seems difficult to believe that this tiny town with a population of about 100 people was caught up in the conflict, but the most northern of the fortifications the German army built across Italy, the Gothic Line, went right through the area.

Old army vehicles assembled in front of the comune.

Inside there was a collection of old photos. The tiny village saw lots of action and the village itself was bombed.

The photos are by Attilio Viziano.

Here you can see Vergemoli being bombed.

The people in front of this air raid shelter look remarkably cheerful.


This is a photo of Vergemoli. It is interesting to note that there are no forests around the town as there are today. All the land was cultivated in those days. The hills were planted with wheat, grape vines and vegetables. No doubt this helped the people survive the horrors of war.

I can’t imagine having to live through what these people did. What a pity we don’t seem to learn enough from past conflicts.

A book has been put together by Andrea Giannasi and Moreno Maffucci about the Gothic Line in Garfagnana where these photos and more have been included.

We bought it even though it is in Italian. It will be good practice to try to read it.

A dark time in Bagni di Lucca

During WWII the Hotel Terme in Bagni Caldi was chosen by the Interior Minister of the Fascist R.S.I (Italian Social Republic) as the district concentration camp.

Between December 1943 and January 1944 more than 100 Jews were interned in the camp.

The larger group was composed of almost 60 foreign Jews, sent to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana during the second half of 1941 in “free internment”.

A small group of foreign Jews, who were already free in BdL, and about 30 Italian Jews arrested in other places in the district joined them.

On 23rd January 1944 the interned Jews were transported from Bagni di Lucca to Florence, then to Milan. On 30th January they were sent to Auschwitz.

Only 5 out of more than 100 Jews from Bagni di Lucca survived deportation.

The information came from researchgate.net.