If one is waiting for a friend to arrive at Bagni di Lucca station but is not exactly sure of which train they’ll be on then and there is no phone connection there is, apparently, not much else to do but wait.
On the face of it Bagni di Lucca station may not be a very propitious place to wait in. It has no bar, the waiting room on this occasion was closed, (but it didn’t really matter as it was a fine afternoon), and if one walks to the nearest bar, a good ten minutes’ walk away, the chances are that the friend you are waiting for will arrive when you haven’t returned.
Actually, Bagni di Lucca station has various interesting features to visit around it while one is waiting for one’s guest.
First, there is the sea-level height indicator telling you the altitude at which you are waiting:
That means 339.074803 feet for imperial measurement sympathisers
Nearby is the the abandoned goods shed with considerable lengths of sidings which in former, more elegant times, must have received the trunks of foreign holiday-makers coming to take the waters and escape from Florentine summer heat. The shed is a substantial building, not unduly vandalised, with a fine strutted roof.
It has two interesting examples of weighing machine which could easily find a place in a scales and weighing measures museum such as we visited recently at Monterchi.
Vanished porters may have used this trolley to transport visitors’ luggage. How we miss these operatives today!
Outside is a fine example of equipment used for a set of points (or railroad switch as North Americans call them).
and one of the oldest plane-trees in Bagni di Lucca:
This could be the souvenir par excellence for visitors to Bagni. It would look fine in someone’s winter accommodation in northern climes and bring back happy memories of beautiful Bagni di Lucca:
Crossing to the other side of the tracks are the overgrown remnants of a once-popular garden. I am informed by older residents that this used to be a very social place where children accompanied by their parents would play and where refreshments could be had in a stall at the station.
I think the area must still be used today since the station also houses the local scout patrol and there were traces of backwoodsmanship and knot tying in the grass.
Walking to the edge of the abandoned gardens there is a little bench overlooking the river Serchio where I spotted a heron and a couple of fishermen hard at work.
There are two wonderful examples of technology once serving the steam locomotives that used the line:
a tender-filling pump
and an octagonal water tower which the fool-hardy can climb to the top of.
The station itself remains an elegant building with its first floor inhabited by a local resident giving it quite a homely feeling especially when the washing is strung out on a line.
More modern equipment includes an automatic ticket vending machine from which I once managed to obtain a return ticket to Stazione Termini Rome after a somewhat lengthy operation. (Leave at least a quarter of an hour if you intend to use this marvel of modern technology, when it works).
What a waste of great opportunities here! The goods station building could at least be utilized as a better headquarters for the scout section than the cramped ex-station masters’ office they use at present.
(Don’t forget the first scouts in Italy were formed in Bagni di Lucca by Sir Francis Vane back in 1910 as the plaque in front of the Croce Rossa (Red Cross) headquarters proclaims).
I also remember how excited we were as scouts when our scoutmaster managed to buy up an entire WWII anti-aircraft emplacement complete with huts at the top of Grange Road in Dulwich, South London. It was called “The Fort” and was surrounded by extensive open space and woods which served us excellently for learning survival tasks such as bivouac making, map-reading and orienteering – very useful today if one is trying to make sense of footpaths in the Lima Valley. The “Fort” is still in use and is now the South London Scout Centre.)
With all these interesting sights wetting the appetite of nostalgic railway buffs, time passes quickly, the longed-for train with its occupant arrives and then one notices “where has the other statue adorning the station platform disappeared to?”
Let’s hope that some use may be found for the area surrounding Bagni di Lucca station. After all it’s the first port of call for train visitors to Bagni di Lucca and, therefore, will give the most important impression of the place. (Barga Station leads the way forwards in this). At the very least, a keen gardener could be found to take better care of the surroundings, especially this lovely station fountain:
PS Do check train times before crossing the tracks to visit the gardens!