Bagni di Lucca
Bagni di Lucca is a collection of 25 villages in the Lima Valley in Northern Tuscany. It has been called Bagni di Lucca since 1862. The commercial centre, and home of the comune, is La Villa, which sits beside the Lima River. Pretty Ponte A Serraglio is one kilometre down river. The first casino in Europe was built here and it is a beautiful 19th century building resembling the Assembly Rooms at Bath or Harrogate. The railway station is at Fornoli, one kilometre further down river towards Lucca.
As well as these 3 hamlets there are many others dotted throughout the hillsides, including Benabbio, Lugliano, Casabasciana, Granaiola, about 25 in total.
Bagni di Lucca has been known for its thermal springs since Etruscan and Roman times. In fact, the name means “Baths of Lucca”. In 1101 the Countess Matilda had the nearby Ponte della Maddelena, also known as The Devil’s Bridge, built so that she could more easily reach the health giving waters.
Since Lucca unified the area in 1308 and transformed it into a spa oasis it has been visited by people from all over the world to ‘take the waters’. Its heyday was the early 1800s, when Napoleon’s sister Elisa Baciocchi, who was Grand Duchess of Tuscany at the time, built the road to the village as she liked to spend her summers there.
After the casino was built, Bagni di Lucca became popular with foreigners. Writers and artists flocked to the area because of its beauty and climate. Byron and Shelley and the Barrett Brownings were among those who liked to visit and had property in the area.
Bagni di Lucca and the surrounding area is a great place to experience authentic Italian life, where in some cases, things haven’t changed much over the years. It is still possible to see a shepherd with his flock and vegetable gardens lovingly tended, especially in the mountain villages. Take the time to visit the outlying villages…you won’t be disappointed.