Bagni di Lucca, “land of princes and poets”, is the largest mountain commune in Italy with a great number of hamlets. It is situated in the valleys of the rivers Serchio and Lima, surrounded by green hills covered with century-old forests of chestnut trees.
Scattered in the area are many elegant mansions of the 19th century, surrounded by rich gardens populated with rare plant species, which poets and musicians used as a romantic retreat and source of inspiration, while royalty found a refuge from the turmoil of busy European capitals.
Inhabited since the Bronze Age, as shown by remains of Ligurian sepulchres of the 8th century BC, the area was known for its mineral springs by Etruscan and Romans, and a Roman settlement was established at Villa Therentiana (presently Pieve dei Monti di Villa).
In the 11th century AD the valley was a fiefdom of powerful Tuscan families.
Bagni the main spa center in Italy, welcoming guests from all over Europe.
In Napoleonic times the place was a favorite retreat of the Buonaparte family, coming for the spas as well as for a casino. After the Congress of Vienna, the Dukedom of Lucca became an international court, and Bagni was the summer retreat.
After 1860, when Tuscany was included in the kingdom of Italy, the decadence of the place as a fashionable resort began.
Points of Interest:
Villa Ada, a previous Renaissance mansion of the local De Nobili family, was renovated in the 19th century by a British consul who added the two 6-sided towers, and surrounded it with large, romantic gardens, including also an artificial grotto. It is now a property of the municipality, and is used for spa therapies.
Thermal Baths, already known in Roman times, and a spa center documented since the Middle Ages, had visitors from all over Europe since medieval times. The spas consist of 19 natural springs with different concentrations of calcium and sulphur, and a maximum temperature of 54 degrees centigrade.
Orrido di Botri is a natural reserve in a deep canyon of great beauty, preserving rare plant species and hosting many rare rapacious birds, as the royal eagle and the owl.
Devil’s Bridge, also called ‘Maddalena’s Bridge, was constructed during the era of the Countess Matilde di Canossa (1046-1115).
This medieval bridge spans the Serchio River and is said to have been built with the aid of the devil himself.
Sitting on now submerged islets, there are five asymmetrical arches.