Heading towards Lucca the winding roads edge along high walls mysteriously bursting with flowers.The volcanic rock a perfect place for seeds to flourish and for nesting birds to flock. The mountain passageways give a curious echo to the whoosh of cyclists whizzing passed Vin, negotiating an endless succession of bends. We soak up the views until our drifting attention turns to a little sosta. We apply the breaks and quickly do an about turn. The free sosta with electricity and services is just wonderful.
Our Bumble free sosta at Chifenti GPS position: N044.004663, E010.562492
Three days and nights in what one would arguably say is a village with little to offer. Half a dozen pizza outlets, a bar or two and an impressive bridge. But the quiet and rustic setting has a certain gravitas. The region isn’t intensively farmed and its fair to say the wilderness is left to do its own thing.
Wild and free flowing. Its attraction certainly lies in its greenness and immense peace with splash of natural ambience. Wild nettle are plenty and sage the size of bin lids surround our patch. The sound of river flowing by, as you drifted to sleep. The echo of church bells as you slowly woke in the morning. Hot Tuscan sunshine during the day but cool evenings just right for a campfire as we share a bottle of vino. A perfect place. (click to enlarge image)
You’ve probably never heard of Bagni di Lucca and neither had we until we stumbled upon it during a cycle ride. A historical spa town just a few miles north of Lucca. Surrounded by a landscape of mini mountain peaks, forests and meadowland. A meandering river running straight through its core with an interesting aqueduct network. Mini castles, forts and walls stand sentinel over the surrounding hamlets that hug the river. The castle towers show that the region was historically fought over, though it now feels somehow forgotten.
It hasn’t been a spa town for centuries although there are still fading signs pointing to a sulphur spring. Out of curiosity we follow the signs but no hot springs in site. The village became a fashionable place to visit at the turn of 19th century when Elisa Baciocchi established Europes first casino. Attracting the romantic writers in such as Shelley and Byron. Its here where the roulette wheel was invented. Did you know, that if you add up all the numbers on the wheel – that’s 1 through 36 you get 666…devilish!
Talking of the Devil. Just down the road at Borgo A Mozzano is Ponte della Maddalena. Also known as devils bridge. A weird but nice shaped bridge. Legend has it the devil built the bridge in exchange for a life, in this case a dog. Needless to say, Mac n Tosh weren‘t too keen on walking over the bridge. Ironically I nearly stood in a load of dog mess too but thankfully, an Italian guy shoved me out the way.
Bagni di Lucca is a place that still seems a little lost in time. On the flip it equally, allows you to find time to enjoy the simple life.