Spring is springing (at long last…)!

Bagni di Lucca’s public gardens (once very private and belonging to the Contessa Casalini who subsequently donated them to the comune’s citizens) looked suitably spring-like yesterday:

Exiting the gardens we passed across local civic sculptor and friend’s piazzetta, celebrating the little borghi that make up the comune, on our way to the town hall to deal with the dreaded “ufficio dei tributi” (council payments office).

The tedious trudge through a current piece of comune bureaucracy does have its compensations. Bagni di Lucca’s town hall keeps the beautiful statue of the bather, rescued from the now closed Villa Ada, in its ground-floor hall. (This hall also conserves declaiming memorials to the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by Italian forces in WW1. Upstairs is a delighful painted ceiling displaying the arms of the little villages of the Val di Lima. On the facade are further plaques commemorating the ballot – no secret ballots at the time – which inaugurated the province into the new kingdom of Italy and, more pleasurably, part of a poem by the great Montale dedicated to this part of the world -my translation follows:)

BAGNI DI LUCCA

Amid the thud of falling chestnuts

and the torrent’s moan

joining their sounds

one’s heart wavers.

An early winter trembles

under the north wind. I look out

from the ledge melting day’s twilight

into ice.

Marble, staves

and shaking

leaves spiral, arrow-like,

into the ditch.

A last flock passes by, lost in the mist

of its breath.

How absolutely wonderful it is to be able to take a walk in our woods in this late spring a-coming! We went to the little chapel of La Serra and then trekked round and up the hill opposite. It actually felt quite warm even approaching 5 pm. The chapel is beautifully maintained by a family who used to live at an isolated house called l’Uccelleria, now inhabited by orcs. Every year a Mass is celebrated at “La Madonnina della Serra” as part of the local parish’s efforts to keep religious memory alive among the little Chiesine which are like satellites revolving around the main churches.

One of the advantages of walking in woods that have not yet sprouted for the new season is that through their still bare branches there are views later to be obscured by dense foliage. (Spot our twin villages of Longoio and Mobbiano and also some old, neglected terraced fields below).

A search for wild asparagus was not very successful but our joy at being able to walk in a sun-lit countryside was immense.

I sincerely hope that we will be able to repeat the delightful sensations of that walk more often now that the most miserable months of rain are apparently at an end with the arrival of Nabucco’s anti-cyclone.

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