Monday’s road trip to Bagni di Lucca…lots of photos…

This was the first bridge we drove across to arrive in the center of the town.

The view as we approached Bagni di Lucca, not the same town as Lucca, itself, which we’ll  also visit in the near future.

Notice the “no honking” sign. 
The vegetation was so thick as we drove along the Lima River while entering Bagni di Lucca, this was the best shot we could get until we arrived closer to the town.

Awakening early Monday morning, Tom suggested, “Let’s hit the road!”

Anxious to begin touring the many towns of Tuscany, an hour later, after a hearty breakfast, we were on our way, choosing the historic village of Bagni di Lucca for a few reasons; one, its river and bridges and two, its relatively close proximity…as the crow flies.

The last portion of the road as we began the descent into Bagni di Lucca.
The street is so narrow it only allows for one way traffic at a time at the upcoming “T”.  As a result, we sat at this light for no less than 7 minutes.

If we thought the drive to Boveglio to Benabbbio or Bovelgio to Collodi was winding and treacherous, we were kidding ourselves!  Never, in either of our lives, have we seen or experienced more hairpin turns, winding, hilly roads than along the drive today. 

Many of these building appear newer, although less interesting from the exterior. But many of them are hundreds of years old, built to last with simple exterior design, common in different times.

Tom, good driver that he is, and considerate of my tentativeness and, duh, our lives, drove carefully putting my mind at ease.  The scenery along the road warranted photos but with literally nowhere to stop, we missed many good shots.

Hairpin turns, every few minutes.

Historic ruins along the banks of the river remain a part of the properties (circa 1900’s) built over the centuries.

With little rain recently, the river bed was sparse of water in parts, the snows having melted some time ago.
Former Minnesota fishing enthusiasts, we couldn’t resist this fish as it swam in the Lima River, as we watched from the shore.
Outdoor cafes never cease to delight us, a novelty from whence we came.

Of course, once we arrived in Bagni di Lucca, we stopped many times visiting the historic sites, walking on narrow foot bridges across rivers, walking along the boulevards, all the while “ooh-ing” and ahh-ing” over one thrilling moment after another. 

How could any region be as breathtaking as Tuscany?

Over and over, I find myself saying, “How could we have lived our lives without seeing Tuscany?”  Its unique lush mountainous greenery caresses one charming Tuscan building after another.  Even the old dilapidated buildings are awe inspiring. 

It wasn’t easy to walk past this bakery.  The smell of fresh baked pastries wafted through the air.

Everywhere we walked, the sweet smell of blooming flowers filled our nostrils as we sucked in the heady perfume of Mother Nature.  Add the meticulous loving care the people of Toscana exercise to maintain its centuries old demeanor and style and you have one of the most enticing areas in the world. 

The sprawling Lima River seems to provide a backdrop for most of the interesting and historical buildings.

With much world ahead of us yet to see, we have no doubt that the memories we’ll gather from our short two and a half months in Tuscany will remain with us forever. 

Pretty mountain village, a mixture of old and newer buildings.

The following well written story Tom found online about Bagni di Lucca was taken from a real estate website, Casa Tuscany, that we found describes it best.  We borrowed these two photos.  All of the other photos are our own.

“One of the oldest and most famous towns in the province of Lucca, Bagni di Lucca is easily reached off the SS12, just past the Devil’s Bridge. This once-grand spa town has always been known for its curing waters, appreciated even in Roman times. 

Bagni di Lucca was frequented for centuries by noblemen and famous people and became known as the land of princes and poets. It became extremely fashionable during the 19th century when it became the meeting place for such distinguished people as the poets Byron, Shelley, Browning, Lever, Giusti, Monti, Carducci, Pascoli, Montale, writers such as Dumas, musicians such as Strauss, Listz, Paganini, Puccini, Mascagni and politicians, saints and popes. Heine described it as “a true and proper sylvan paradise. I have never found a valley more enchanting, even the mountains are nobly formed and not bizarre and Gothic like those in Germany.”

The English came to know Bagni di Lucca as the ‘Switzerland of Tuscany’ and its prestige at that time led to the construction of an Anglican church, an important suspension bridge, the Ponte delle Catene, a neo-classical temple and the Villa Demidoff, the casino, where roulette was invented in 1837, the Circolo dei Forestieri, the foreigners club, now an upmarket river-front restaurant and numerous important villas immersed in greenery. 

Also characteristic are the feudal and medieval structures of the mountain villages, rich in history, traditions, legends, and some with Romanesque parish churches, such as Vico Pancellorum and Pieve di Controne.”


Now, with a plan to continue to reach out to more villages in Tuscany, week by week, we find ourselves considering that we may not choose to drive the huge distances to the tourist packed areas in Italy, perhaps focusing our attention around Florence and Tuscany.  After all, our plan all along has been to do “what feels right to us” as opposed to “what others think we should do.”

Walking across this foot bridge we commented about its sturdy feel. Looking online, we found this story about the “New Stress Ribbon Pedestrian Bridge.”

Yes, we’re happy we had the opportunity to experience Venice.  But, the crowds were such a damper to our visit with tourists at one’s elbow at every step.  A gondola ride, once savored as a “must do” became dull and uninteresting in the massive “traffic jams” we witnessed on the canals.

Danita Delimont Bridge was built in the 1700’s.  Walking across we were impressed by its strength and stability. 
This old bridge couldn’t have been more well preserved while maintaining the significance of its historical design.

Google Translate wouldn’t translate this for us.  Anyone want to assist?

Here in Boveglio, there are few tourists, no crowds, no waiting in line.  We may be two of a handful of tourists.  There are a few B & B’s in the general area.  We’ve yet to speak to one English speaking tourist or resident.  For us, this adds to our experience. 

The only spot where we saw rapids on the Lima River.

Without a doubt, we’ve loved all of the fun and interesting people  that we’ve met on our eight cruises, many of whom we will remain in touch with by email and our blog. However, in one’s everyday life, one doesn’t necessarily make new friends every few months. 

This riverfront property, although appearing newer, could well have been 200 years old.

Many friends we know and love, seldom entertain or socialize beyond an occasional get together, often as infrequently as once or twice a year.  In most cases, this is the norm for middle aged and older people instead spending more time with family.

The footbridge lead to the past behind me, where we wandered around.
As we stepped off the footbridge, we noticed this rushing water channel alongside the river.

Social butterflies that we are, we fully enjoyed the interactions on the cruises, but are quite content just being together, day after day, in our own little world, that, in essence with readers all over the world may not be so small after all.  We don’t feel isolated.  

Tom, at the park by the river.  One of our readers made a comment that his white tennis shoes are a dead ringer for a tourist. Apparently, Europeans wear darker colored shoes. Although, we’re not ashamed to be tourists, spending money and savoring every moment in the current country in our journey.

Of course, we miss our family and friends and always will, staying in touch by Skype and email as much as possible.  Someday, we will settle down, where we don’t know at this point nor do we worry about that eventuality.  Most likely, our staying put, wherever that may be, will add to our accessibility to our family members and hopefully our friends.

We called this a “camouflage” tree, based on the coloration and pattern of the bark.

For now, we continue on, with our new plan to further explore Tuscany upon awakening any morning, knowing today is the day to go, grab a map, load up in our iced tea, my tube of lipstick (no purse), our camera and Tom’s excellent driving skills to venture out on more of these crazy roads. 

Building a park around a historical structure is common from what we’ve seen of the world thus far.  Hard to read signs prevented us from determining the origin of this structure.

That, my friends, is what being retirement is all about…doing exactly what we choose each and every day, health providing, funds well-managed, rental car gassed up, and an easy spirit in our hearts to live life to the fullest, for as long as we can.

Sign near exit to footbridge.

Thank you, Bagni di Lucca, for yet another memorable day.

The humid valley as we drove back.  Later in the day it rained with thunder and lightening, the first time since we arrived.  The humidity is high each day due to the vegetation although not uncomfortable.  The fresh smog free air makes taking a deep breath refreshing and energizing.
Returning in the afternoon, we immediately ran around securing all the windows as a sudden deluge of thunder, lightening and rain ensued.  The cozy feeling was not lost on us as travelers intent on following the sun. 
Off we go, back to the hairpin turns and our carefully executed return drive to Boveglio, our new home.
The gardens were watered, the flowers soaked up the much needed moisture and the stone patios, streets and walkways were cleansed of their dust and soil.
This morning sunshine prevailed as it shone on the lush greenery surrounding us, maybe one shade greener than the prior day, if that’s at all possible.