A Facebook plea from our excellent Vet, Dr Stefanini of Fornoli, to ensure that our pets are kept warm in this sudden fall in temperature reminds me also to care for our wild birds. Well-provide bird-tables should be a must for all lovers of feathered friends!
Looking through photographs taken at the start of December 2005 these delightful cameos are associated with Bagni di Lucca’s casinò, Europe’s first purpose-built gaming-hall designed by Pardini and dating from 1839. Bird-watchers will be able to identify the species without much difficulty.
When I first arrived at Bagni di Lucca the casinò was the town’s main tourist information and internet centre and was beautifully run by a gentle and very helpful lady who’d returned to Italy after many years spent in Western Australia. This was an information centre which truly gave an insight into the past glories of Bagni and Leda was glad to show visitors around the building.
In particular the trompe-d’oeuil entrance with its trellised arbour is delightful:
And, of course, there’s the grandeur of the ballroom stuccoed with imperial lilies.
In 2009 a mistaken attempt to restore the casino to its original function as a fashionable gambling den succeeded for a short time. A casinò, however, needs professional croupiers and a sophisticated catering department to attract the punters. The automated roulette tables and slot-machines which inaugurated the re-generated casinò were, frankly, not au fait and the venture failed. (For more of this story see my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/che-casino/). At present the casino is, unfortunately, largely closed, although it’s sometimes used for exhibitions, conferences and book-presentations.
“Ludopatia” or gambling addiction is, anyway, a severe problem in today’s crisis-hit Italy, on a par with those other epidemics like drugs and violence against women. Reading through the local rags I note that several bars have now banned slot-machines from their premises, have won praise for their action and have certainly not decreased their customers. This is very laudable as any bar installing the ubiquitous “slot” (the Italians always cut their English language importations in half e.g. “Nightclub” becomes “night” and so forth) is able to get some sneaky income from it.
There is nothing more depressing than entering a bar and seeing the “ludopatici” glued to their “slot” in the mistaken hope that they will get rich quick. I’m only glad that – somewhat late in life – I decided to do A-level statistics, master the theory of probability, which originated in those efforts to analyse games of chance by Gerolamo Cardano in the sixteenth century, and by Pierre de Fermat and Blaise Pascal in the seventeenth, and realise that, beyond a little flutter, I’d soon loose my shirt if I carried on!