Back in winter 2001 I had the idea of scootering from Florence to do a bit of ski-ing at Abetone in the Pistoian Apennines. We never got there since the road became rather icy at one stage and, as discretion is the better part of valour, we retreated further down the valley to Cutigliano.
It was a god-send: Cutigliano is much more picturesque than touristy, ski-mad Abetone and combines a dainty mediaeval centre with some excellent nursery slopes suitable for extreme-ski challenged people like us.
In that New Year’s eve of 2001 we stayed in a room above a shop selling woollen clothes and were made to feel most welcome. 2002 was inaugurated by a spectacular fiaccolata when skiers glided down from the Croce arcana pass with lighted torches. We needed that welcome – 9/11 was still heavily on people’s minds and the following morning we all had to cope with a new currency: the Euro!
Cutigliano is first mentioned in 1000 AD in documents now in the Pistoia’s state archives and several of its buildings date back to those feudal times when the town faced tough battles to maintain its independence from the inroads of Lucca’s Castruccio Castracani. The brigands of the Valdinievole valley, with their base at Lucchio castle, on the borders between Pistoia and Lucca, also gave Cutigliano a hard time until in 1330 they were defeated by Angiolo Panciatichi.
The governor of Cutigliano was called il Capitano Della Montagna and the post dates back to the time of Panciatichi. The proud little town hall decorated with heraldic symbols was once the captain’s main residence..
There are two beautiful churches. The one dedicated to the Madonna even contains a lovely Della Robbia.
Cutigliano became part of the new kingdom of Italy in 1861. It also developed into a summer hideaway for people escaping from the torrid summer heat of Florence and the library gave us reprints of quaint accounts of the wonders Cutigliano offered to those travellers reaching it by horse and carriage. Indeed, for a little time it was a rival to Bagni di Lucca itself for attracting dyspeptic Anglo-Saxons to its arboured slopes.
We like to return to Cutigliano at least once a year. These photographs were taken in October 2005 during a folk and chestnut festival.