A New Hub?

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

  1. Finding new paper products and restoring old techniques
  2. Animal husbandry (such as cashmere goats which also clear the underbrush), environmentally-compatible techniques
  3. Promoting growth and sales of local agricultural products (along with an International marketplace)
  4. Vico Pancellorum and other villages, preservers of ancient Latin dialects: a cultural centre for linguistics studies
  5. Restoring spa offerings and health and well-being programs
  6. Better programming of theatrical offerings, along with possibilities for musical studies
  7. Pellet production and forest husbandry
  8. Attention to historic gardens and areas of special scientific interest such as the Prato Fiorito, coordinated with Pescia and perhaps the UK
  9. Centralizing children’s programs, perhaps through Collodi’s Pinocchio associations.
  10. Bringing together various groups involved in church and art restoration
  11. Twinning with cities and international relations
  12. Improving traffic flow and creating more pedestrian areas
  13. Recuperating and restoring old buildings for public use
  14. 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:

  1. Enthusiastic and committed involvement by dedicated and well-informed people.
  2. A guaranteed source of funds.
  3. 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.

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10 thoughts on “A New Hub?

  1. It is wonderful that some of these things are being discussed. We need someone with a vision for Bagni di Lucca in the future. I love BdL the way it is, but the villages will continue to lose residents unless more people come to live and stay. The area has so much to offer, but the resources need to be enhanced and shown to the world. I hope this is a start.

  2. I hope that the proposal will be accepted, some points could have been already working positively for Bagni di Lucca if the narrow minded minority wouldn’t always been more considered rather than new intelligent and modern ideas

  3. Ideas and suggestions galore have been wafting in the breezes and transported away into the clouds and mists of time. It is high time that we all realise that what is missing in the area is a good reliable form of transport infrastructure for people arriving into the area without which it makes it very difficult to action all these interesting projects by which I mean that not everyone is healthy enough to walk around the area up hill and down dale for hours besides which petrol is expensive too! This could be used as a working programme for the forthcoming 2015 Milan Expo which will indeed attempt to cover all the above projects. I am all in favour of such pursuits for as forest clearance and regeneration we in fact are tried and tested veterans at being work parties in this field in Scoltand’s Scottish Conservation Trust which entailed in gathering up folk of all ages in good health that wanted to work in all weather conditions and do just that tree planting clearance of paths etc.with the difference that no monies exchanged hands only basic board and lodging.this is a tried and tested scheme of events so why not try to copy other countries successful and ongoing healthy projects which are useful educational and most of all productive in involving people of all ages and walks of life in bettering their immediate area.

  4. Well by the looks of it, at last there is more than hope for Bagni. For any plan of action to work there has to be a beginning and it looks like this could be it. If this plan is adopted it needs to be sold to the permanent residents of Bagni and its surrounding villages, and that means knocking on doors and organising community meetings not just a poster ‘awareness’ campaign and getting people to embrace change. Everyone has an interest in this and in ensuring its success. May I suggest that the Italian community in the US are made aware of what is intended as there are a number of generous souls who would be prepared to support this with cash, land etc. Transport infrastructure is key; if you can improve Bagni’s connectivity with the rest of the region it will stand a better chance of succeeding. More young Italians need to be persuaded to settle in the villages around Bagni, and tax breaks and other service incentives need to be considered, particularly if those young Italians are prepared to have and bring up their families in those villages. All of this is not impossible. When we all pull in one direction its surprising what can be achieved. When i’m in Lucca I don’t see anyone promoting Bagni. It could be that I don’t look properly but even if a small percentage of the vast numbers that tread the streets of Lucca could be persuaded to go to Bagni it would be a positive development. Would the BDL commune be prepared to run a free bus trip from Lucca to Bagni? It might be worth trialling it for say one summer.

  5. Thank you for this Francis. I would like to add that after January 6 we will be moving the presentation, probably upstairs at Bar Italia, and will continue to involve more local residents. I agree with the comments above, especially the importance of improving transportation! NJB

  6. Pingback: Big plans for Bagni di Lucca in 2014 | Bella Bagni di Lucca

  7. Pingback: Knots of Memory: Tapestry as Art Form | From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Two

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