A True Blue Day

When it’s the first wall-to-wall sunshine day in ages what does one do? Enjoy it to the full in the beauty of the burgeoning spring landscape.

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After shopping at Borgo’s Penny Market I took to the hills above Borgo a Mozzano. My first stop was at Catureglio which is one of the most substantial villas in this area and dates back to the thirteenth century, although its present appearance is essentially that of the seventeenth. The villa is now dedicated to holiday lets. For more information see the web site at: http://www.catureglio.com/index.html

I was shown around the property by a kind retainer and was particularly struck by the quality of the frescoes in the chapel’s roof which I would date around the second half of the seventeenth century.

Although clearly it’s good that the villa is used I felt sad that the chapel, which is still consecrated, was not employed for any weddings at the very least. Local villagers told me that formerly they would be allowed to enter the chapel once a year to celebrate mass but this custom has now fallen into abeyance.

The entire property is beautifully landscaped with lots of cypresses and made me feel much closer to the Florentine countryside than I actually was!

The road continued weaving through the hills and getting higher and higher. I passed the hermitage I described in my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/happy-hermits/ and detoured to a place which I find most interesting but have never been able to attend. It’s the observatory of Monte Agliana which has its web site at http://www.oama.it/ . It’s placed in a spectacular position above the Serchio valley with 360 degree views of the still rather snowy mountains surrounding it.

The observatory is open to the public on the first and third Fridays of the month, observation weather permitting but I’ve never gone to peer through the telescopes there because it’s somewhat dark at night in the forest and the road to it is not of the best, especially when one is on a scooter rather than a land rover. Perhaps I’ll make another attempt with the warmer weather as the observatory has pioneered many new discoveries including no less than 49 supernovae and hundreds of asteroids – no mean achievement for any observatory!

Beyond the look-out tower at Monte Bargiglio (the “eye of Lucca “ in that Happy Hermits post) the road becomes untarred and is not for the faint hearted especially as because of the continuous rains it is very squelchy. I struggled on my scooter, however and passed the hermitage of San Ansano hidden in the forest and eventually reached the road between San Romano and Motrone.

Surrounded by hills and overlooking the Turrite valley, the village of San Romano, is fifteen miles away from Borgo a Mozzano. It was formerly called Spuliziano and was located on a mountain ridge but following an outbreak of the plague, the surviving population descended down to the present site of the village and built a church dedicated to Saint Romano. Inhabited today by less than a hundred people, it was once much more populous and many of its houses are either empty or used as holiday lets.

San Romano’s buildings are quite modest but very harmoniously put together and there are several picturesque corners. Although I find the village of Motrone rather more interesting, San Romano (not to be confused with the comune of San Romano further north in Garfagnana) has some delightful features:

The mediaeval launderette is one of the finest in the whole valley although it’s not much used today. What a pity! I find it much more interesting than staring at my washing machine!

The parish church, already mentioned in the papers in 1260, was recently repaired as it was damaged by an earthquake. It has a delightful interior.

Perhaps more interesting is the oratory which also contains fragments of a fresco and has a fine, austere interior.

There is a great walk described at

http://treking.altervista.org/ESCURS_2011/Romitorio_S_Bartolomeo/S_Bartolomeo.htm

which I must try out as it covers much of the area I scootered through yesterday

How blessed sunshine can change the day, indeed, one’s whole life. And we are promised several more such days. What bliss indeed!

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4 thoughts on “A True Blue Day

  1. Thats wonderful news re the blue day. I’ve never been to BDL in March (February and April yes, but not March). I’ve noticed that around 11 April the weather changes to what I would describe as the summer weather pattern being longer, sunnier, warmer days. This was my experience in 2005-11, but not 2012 when April seemed a lot cooler, (it’d been minus 16 degrees celsius outside the church in San Cassiano in mid February), so I suppose my experience of a cooler April is probably linked to that. I don’t think the ‘normal’ weather pattern has returned yet as in 2013 it seemed to rain for all of April and May. Lets hope 2014 is a return to normal. I think we’ll definitely be going to Catureglio next time – what a stunning Villa and Chapel. San Romano looks beautiful too; interesting to know about its post-plague origins and dedication. The Penny Market is a real find is’nt it? We’ll be visiting it and Dicos next time.

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