Bagni di Lucca, Province of Lucca, Tuscany
Deservedly called "land of princes and poets", this town, the largest mountain commune in Italy with a great number of hamlets, 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 and princes found a refuge from the turmoil of busy European capitals.
- Altitude: 152 m a.s.l
- Population: about 6,500 inhabitants
- Zip/postal code: 55022
- Phone Area Code: 0583
- Patron Saint: Saints Peter and Paul, celebrated on 29 June
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Provinces of Tuscany
The comune includes the following Localities: La Villa, Bagni Caldi, Benabbio, Brandeglio, Casabasciana, Casoli, Cocciglia, Crasciana, Fabbriche di Casabasciana, Fornoli, Granaiola, Isola], Limano, Lucchio, Lugliano, Montefegatesi, Monti di Villa, Palleggio, Pieve di Monti di Villa, Pieve di Contron, Ponte a Serraglio, San Cassiano di Controne, San Gemignano, Val Fegana, Vico Pancellorum.
History - Antiquity
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.
History - the Middle Ages
In the 11th century AD the valley was a fiefdom of powerful Tuscan families, as the Soffredinghi, Porcareschi, and Lupari. Then during the 12th century the independent town of Lucca occupied the area, which in 1308 became one jurisdiction called Vicaria Della Val di Lima. Since the 14th century then the Republic of Lucca made of Bagni the main spa centre in Italy, welcoming guests from all over Europe.
History - Modern Times
In Napoleonic times the place was a favourite retreat of the Buonaparte family, coming for the spas as well as for a casino. After the Congress of Vienna and throughout the 19th century the Dukedom of Lucca became an international court, and Bagni was the summer retreat of the court, with the casino organizing also magnificent dance events.
When however the Dukedom was sold to Leopold of Lorraine, the Granduke of Tuscany, the casino was closed in 1853, and later after 1860 when Tuscany was included in the kingdom of Italy the decadence of the place as a fashionable resort began.
What to see
- The Villa Ada, a previous Renaissance mansion of the local De Nobili family, renovated in the 19th century by Sir Mac Bean, a British consul in Leghorn who added also the two 6-sided towers, and surrounded by large, romantic gardens, including also an artificial grotto. It is now a property of the municipality, and is used for spa therapies.
- The Thermal Baths, already known in Roman times, and a spa centre 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.
- The Casinò of the 19th century, the first in Europe, suppressed in the 1850's, whose managers moved then to Monaco
- The natural reserve Orrido di Botri, a deep canyon of great beauty, preserving rare plant species and hosting many rare rapacious birds, as the royal eagle and the owl.