The collection of villages called Bagni di Lucca has been around for centuries. Some of the mountain villages were settled by retiring Roman soldiers, but Bagni di Lucca’s heyday was the early 1800s when it was part of the Grand Tour, and educational rite of passage largely taken by young men of the British nobility and landed gentry.
Once rail travel became popular after the 1840s, overseas travellers joined in. Bryon and Shelley stayed in Bagni di Lucca and frolicked naked in little mountain pools. Puccini wrote some of his operas here. Franz Liszt played piano in the first casino in Europe, built in Bagni di Lucca in 1837.
Now the villages are sleepy little hamlets scattered along the Lima River and clinging like limpets to the mountains on either side.
The prettiest of the villages is Ponte a Serraglio, home of the casino, which is now only open for weddings and events. Some of the thermal baths the area is famous for are also located here, just a short walk up the hill. The views along the way are wonderful.
Ponte a Serraglio is an excellent place to base yourself for a stay in Bagni di Lucca. There are many accommodation options from hotels, B & Bs and apartments.
There are lots of villages to explore. It is possible to do so by public transport, but this is a bit patchy and a car makes things much easier.
Be sure to visit Lugliano for some magnificent views. Walk through the narrow lanes along the ridge on top of a mountain.
Montefegatesi is the highest of the villages and famous for the statue of Dante at the top.
In Lucchio it is said that hens lay square eggs so they don’t roll away.
Bagni di Lucca is a fascinating village in northern Tuscany with plenty to hold your interest for at least a week.