Bagni di Lucca does not lack its local historians – after all, there is a considerable legacy of documents remaining from the last thousand years from administrators, ecclesiastical authorities and travellers to the area providing a field-day for those wishing to investigate: for example, Montaigne’s diary of his Journey to Italy, local parish books (parrocchiali), letters written (among many others) by Heine, the Shelleys and the Brownings are some of the most attention-grabbing of these documents.
Eventually, local histories on this fascinating part of the world began to be written by both Italians and English. Two of the most noteworthy of these are Evangeline Whipple’s A famous corner of Tuscany, of 1928 and Bruno Cherubini’s Bagni di Lucca tra cronaca e storia, published in 1977.
Professor Natalia Sereni continues this tradition of local history writing of the Bagni di Lucca area but expands it into new areas of investigation and backs her arguments with outstanding archival research.
Of her books “Palpiti d’amor di patria a Bagni di Lucca”, published in 2011 by that enterprising Luccan publisher, Maria Pacini Fazzi, discusses the resurgence of patriotic feeling which affected all people, regardless of class and culture, in the year leading up to the unification of Italy in 1861. If you can read Italian it is a fascinating study revealing some truly remarkable facts: for example, even the cut-off borgo of Montefegatesi was able to supply Garibaldi’s “mille” expedition with a volunteer.
“Con franchezza e lealtà… La storia del passaggio di alcune frazioni da Borgo a Mozzano a Bagni di Lucca” takes a seemingly dry subject – the decision of some villages in Borgo a Mozzano Comune to detach themselves and join with Bagni di Lucca – and enlivens it with contemporary accounts which show how heated a topic this became and how the political process developed into more democratic aspects in nineteenth-century Italy.
Natalia Sereni’s latest book is called “La Magia del Prato Fiorito” and was presented last night in the pink room of the Circolo dei Forestieri at Bagni Villa.
I entered the elegant assembly-room as “The night on the Bare Mountain” episode from Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” was being projected (which I thought both apt and witty since the Prato Fiorito is, indeed, another bare mountain and also associated with the witches’ Sabbath!)
A huge whale-backed and largely treeless massif, the area has gathered many associations in pagan legends, historical remembrance and local consciousness.
In her delightful and well- illustrated book Prof. Sereni discusses in separate chapters Prato Fiorito’s association with poets, religious ceremonies, pre-christian temples, witchcraft , medicinal plants and botanical significance. The book comes with lovely photographs including some rare archival ones and several taken by her daughter, so if your Italian is not up to it you can still enjoy the book for its illustrations.
The true objective of the book, however, is to persuade people to visit this very beautiful area and to bring it to greater public awareness, something which the forthcoming “Festa Del Prato Fiorito” on the night of the 29th and 30th June, and now in its second year, aims at encouraging.
Below, at the book presentation, the Mayor Massimo Betti, Prof. Natalia Sereni and Renato Tomei, president of the local traders association: Do read my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/the-elysian-fields-of-prato-fiorito/ to find out more about this incredible mountain, the most distinctive feature of the area I live in.