Yesterday morning I was invited to the Terme di Bagni di Lucca by “Grapevine” editor Norma Jean Bishop to view and participate in an exhibition which could promise a bright new regenerative future for the whole of the comune of Bagni di Lucca. The project called “The Hub”, and created by Carla Romani, concentrates on the development of certain environmental and cultural features of the area administered by the comune with a view to revaluing them and making them more accessible to all those living in or visiting the area. The end result would be a continuously renewing process applied to Bagni di Lucca and its hinterland which (like so many other parts of crisis-stricken Italy) sorely needs a way forwards which does not present impossible targets but which relies instead on existing time-tested resources.
The beauty of the project is that the means to carry it forwards is all there – there is no need to build new structures or find new metaphorical oil-fields: just the will to fully realise what is there today and what is truly possible in the foreseeable future.
Here is a summary of the key points of the project:
BAGNI DI LUCCA HUB
Mission: economic development using local environmental and cultural heritages
- Finding new paper products and restoring old techniques
- Animal husbandry (such as cashmere goats which also clear the underbrush), environmentally-compatible techniques
- Promoting growth and sales of local agricultural products (along with an International marketplace)
- Vico Pancellorum and other villages, preservers of ancient Latin dialects: a cultural centre for linguistics studies
- Restoring spa offerings and health and well-being programs
- Better programming of theatrical offerings, along with possibilities for musical studies
- Pellet production and forest husbandry
- Attention to historic gardens and areas of special scientific interest such as the Prato Fiorito, coordinated with Pescia and perhaps the UK
- Centralizing children’s programs, perhaps through Collodi’s Pinocchio associations.
- Bringing together various groups involved in church and art restoration
- Twinning with cities and international relations
- Improving traffic flow and creating more pedestrian areas
- Recuperating and restoring old buildings for public use
- Tourist information centres operating on a year-round, full-day schedule
It was good to meet up with Carla and with other persons interested in the project, and several points above were discussed. For example, with regard to no. 11 Norma Jean proposed Fontaines de Vaucluse, because of its artistic restoration of the paper factory along the river and because Petrarch lived there. She declared it “a lovely little model for Bagni di Lucca’s recovery.” I have already suggested a further twinning with a noted Welsh spa resort in my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/well-well-well/
Of course, this project (like all projects!) needs three things in this order:
- Enthusiastic and committed involvement by dedicated and well-informed people.
- A guaranteed source of funds.
- A positive feed-back from local populations at the results obtained, resulting in increased participation.
Money is forthcoming but only if the will to use it appropriately and efficiently is forthcoming too. Bagni di Lucca is a complicated area in terms of its population. Permanent residents present only a fraction of the total population one sees in summer due to its largely holidaying flavour. Yet there are many permanent local occupations which could either be re-instituted or developed. The above list points the way forwards especially with regard to cashmere goats and pellet manufacture.
Other parts of Europe have successfully pulled their socks up on these matters so why shouldn’t Bagni di Lucca do the same?
You are cordially invited to the exhibition which will remain open until January 6th when the whole spa closes down for the winter period. As far as we are concerned we’ll be there every day until then – not just for the exhibition but also because we’ve booked ourselves in for sessions at the Grottina where the volcanically heated waters, producing a natural sauna atmosphere, will help us to remove some of those culinary impurities gathered during the Christmas binge and make us forget that outside another meteorological perturbation is pouring even more rain on (sunny…?) Italy.