Bagni di Lucca and the Grotto of the Winds

We had two thoughts after leaving Genoa. Where can we go that won’t find us competing with the bus tour groups that are Italy’s typical summer fare? (Apologies to the Umbrella ladies) Let’s type into Google: “Back roads of Tuscany and Umbria”.

Then we found Bagni di Lucca, small and quiet in a valley close to Lucca. Bound to be quieter and cooler in a mountain valley, right?  First, if you type in Back roads into Google, when you go to Google maps, be careful because it has heard you want back roads and it takes you that way.  We were on some very obscure roads between Genoa and Poggibonsi, where we first lost phone signal and started using signs, drove for miles on a barely paved road to a wonderful café, but turns out it was only open for dinner. Look at a map for Lucignano d’Asso or Ristorante Casa Bandini, Poggibononsi.  In Montereggio, we finally found a place to eat and got back on the auto strada. We knew we were close to Bagni di Lucca, when we passed the bridge Pont de la Madeleine

Pont San Madeleine Bridge
Pont San Madeleine Bridge

Bagni di Lucca might be just a little too quiet, perfect for private parties and weddings, but you would want to expect a very quiet time here. What was perfect for us, is that the best local restaurant created dining a la strada otherwise known as “Let’s close the road and put the tables outside, because it is just to damn hot.” They had  excellent live music each evening, everyone was was there.  There is no air conditioning in this part of Italy and it seemed imminently sensible to just divert the traffic. The weather cools off as soon as the sun goes down, everyone was happy.

new definition of Street Food
new definition of Street Food

Knowing the next day was going to be hotter still, a drive to Garfagnana and the Cave of the winds, where it is 10.7 C all year round. It was a great drive, we felt like we were in Switzerland and a two hour tour of the Caves in cool, ultra-healthy air was sensational.

Grotto Sul Velo
Grotto del Vento

 

Town in the Apuan Alps in Northwest Tuscany
Fornovolasco in the Apuan Alps in Northwest Tuscany

If you do go to Bagni di Lucca, go in June or September, because there are plenty of walks. We followed the passegiata there, that Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning would stroll. For my return, I will be heading back to Garfagnana.

Poet's passegiata in Bagni di Lucca
Poet’s passegiata in Bagni di Lucca