A Trip in Tuscany

Continues the discovery of the beauties of Tuscany. Today we won’t talk about “big cities”, but I’ll tell you a day trip in the mountains between Pistoia and Lucca.

I have planned in detail the day, but it was a really cold day and that night on the mountains it had snowed and iced. In Florence, the situation it wasn’t so bad, so I Martina (my girlfriend) and Coco (my beautiful dog) have got the car and  we left the city. As soon as we have exceeded 400-500 meters above sea level, we found snow and ice and since my car doesn’t have winter tires, I had to proceed slow and carefully. The view however, was really stunning; we were higher than clouds.

The first thing to see was the “Ponte di Castruccio”, a medieval bridge built between 1281 and 1328 on the Lima River, which once signed the edge between Lucca and Pistoia. In the pictures, the bridge seemed to be beautiful and I wanted to photograph it. Unfortunately the road that brings to this bridges was iced so I couldn’t continue with the car. I had to give up to see  the Ponte di Castruccio and to postpone the visit at this bridge when the days will be warmer.

Close to the Ponte di Castruccio, there is another interesting spot named “Sacred Fence of Rio delle Lame”. This is an archeological site where recently the Association “Valle Lune” has cleaned the area and discovered ten structures made by sandstone boulders and delimited by a stone fence. Surrounded by two rivers, this fence is hosted in a woods composed by acacia trees, oaks, hazel trees, rose hips and brambles, and even if it was late winter, the green dominated the area. The studies conducted on this site have concluded that these structures are mounds, even if it isn’t known who made them. As you can imagine the situation isn’t clear, it requires more time and study.

Came back at the car, we moved to the following spot, which was the “Suspended Bridge of San Marcello Pistoiese”. This is a 227 meters long bridge and it’s wide only 80 centimeters. If you have fear of heights then don’t go on the bridge. This is really narrow and when you walk the bridge sways, even if it is supported by four steel cables; the feeling is walking on empty.

The structure connects the two sided of Lima River (Mammiano Basso and Popiglio), it was built in 1920 by Vincenzo Douglas Scotti and it was necessary to allow the pass of the workers from Popiglio to the factories located in the other side (the alternative road was a 6 kilometers long route). Today the bridge have lost its original function, but it still has works of maintenance and consolidation (your safety is guaranteed). Final curiosity: the suspended bridge in 1990 was listed in Guinness Book of Records as “the longest pedestrian suspended bridge”, until 2006 when it was exceeded by the Japanese “Kokonoe Yume Bridge”.

In my original plan, from the Suspended Bridge we had to go at Lucchio, which is a small village perched on the mountain that dominates the valley of Lima River. The village is called “the invisible town”, because is almost fully covered by other mountains in fact, you can’t see Lucchio until you’re very close to the town. As you can imagine, Lucchio is essentially uninhabited, as many others little Italian villages; the main reason to visit the town is the rest of the ancient fortress.

The castle was built by the Countess Matilde of Canossa, probably in 1300. Now of the castle remain only few rocks, but when you reach the fortress (780 meters high) you can enjoy of a beautiful view on the entire valley. Unfortunately the road to the castle was iced and we couldn’t go up on the of the mountain. To show you how much was cold that day, I posted a picture where you can see on the wall of the street the ice stalactites drop on the ground.

From Lucchio we moved toward Bagni di Lucca, and while we were doing the route, we found a beautiful stone bridge on the Lima River. I didn’t know it but I wanted anyway take a photo of the bridge. Once at home I tried to find some information on this bridge, without success.

Continuing our plan, we went in Bagni di Lucca, a small town famous for its baths. It’s nice wander in this city for the small houses and the many bridges that cross the Lima River.

Overpassed Bagni di Lucca, in Fornoli, we arrived at the last spot of the trip,the “Ponte delle Catene” (also called Gold Bridge). This bridge, built between 1844 and 1860 by Duke of Lucca Carlo Ludovico di Borbone and designed by Lorenzo Nottolini, is a futuristic opera for its time. In fact, the structure is based on the industrial techniques of the iron trough the suspension of the chains.

The bridge however mixes also elements of classicism of that time, like the two triumphal arches. The Ponte delle Catene is one of the most ancient iron bridges of Continental Europe still existing.

From here we came back at home in Florence, to rest in a warm place.

Good light to everyone

Carlo

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