We’ve had two days of rain now – very welcome for our plants but not brilliant for getting around. So I was glad that last Monday I took a trip around the Luccan hills on my scooter
Lucca’s hills to the north of the city are the home to some of the best olive oil and wines in the whole of Italy. They are divided into the ranges to the east of the river Serchio and those to the west.
The eastern hills rise quite steeply and merge into the Pizzorne, the plateau precursors of the main Apennine ridge of sedimentary rocks. I know this part quite well so was keen to explore the western hills which are the precursors of the metamorphic Apuan range. Few river valleys have such different geological formations on opposite banks!
The western hills are pure heaven and have some of the most wonderfully gentle landscapes I have ever seen in Italy, surpassing, in my opinion even Chiantishire. There are delightful wooded lanes,and extensive views towards the Apuans:
There are beautiful Pievi – here at Santo Stefano::
Lovely olive groves
And the best long-views of Lucca I have ever seen:
There is indeed so much to enjoy and explore here that I feel I have neglected this area for the more dramatic parts of the Lucchesia further north.
One place stopped at was Mutigliano, a delightful village which has an unusual feature I’d visited before without realising what it meant.
Last summer I’d gone with two friends to a sagra, or festival, “dei Rigatoni” (a type of pasta) just outside Mutigliano. It was great fun, both for the food and the dancing.
(For more information on the sagra click on
This time I wanted to explore more of the area around where the summer sagra is held. The dance area looked quite different now.
There were two forlorn eagles, one of which had lost a wing, perched on columns,
There was a Roman-style “altar” sculpted (by Bacelli) with delicate mourning figures:
There was also a collapsing monument with difficult-to-decipher writing on it (but which I later discovered was General Diaz’ proclamation of the great Italian victory concluding World War I at Vittorio Veneto).
I realised I was in a “Parco della Rimembranza”, a park set up to remember the fallen of World War I and where the beautiful holm-oak woods surrounding the entrance amphitheatre symbolised those who died, but had no grave, in that four-year-long massacre. This memorial was laid out in 1924 by the new Italian fascist government who also designed another similar memorial, this time in an urban setting, in Piazza Verdi just inside Lucca’s Porta Sant’Anna (and which – after much heated debate – is being restored to its original glory).
Strangely, although the Mutigliano memorial park appeared so neglected, its forlornness added to the tragic poignancy of that conflict from which, clearly, the fascist government hadn’t learnt any lessons when it plunged Italy into a second world war in 1940.
I do feel, however, that, as a token that this year is the centennial commemoration of the Great War, the eagles could be cleaned up and the missing wing replaced.
I plunged into the woods and my spirit was immediately raised by the beauty of the trees.
At odd intervals very good signs explained different aspects of the forest flora and fauna. Some of them had three-D effects and all were good for learning the correct Italian for animal species.
(Moscardino means a Dormouse)
At other intervals there was a fitness activity with indication of how to use it according to different levels of competence – an open-air gym in effect. I tried one or two of them, the only one around to do so, and thought this was quite an enjoyable way of helping to lose some of that “spare tyre” accumulated through the rinfreschi we’d been offered at the start of the week.
Through the woods I could see a large building which once had been the summer holiday camp for orphans of the war…
Lucca, therefore, has two Parchi Della Rimembranza, both inaugurated on 8th June 1924 by Costanzo Ciano who had collaborated in heroic exploits with poet D’Annunzio in WWI (see my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/superman-or-satanist/). The one in Lucca commemorates fallen soldiers from the city and the one in Mutigliano commemorates those from the countryside who died.
I wonder how many of us will remember the parks’ original purpose, whether we hit the dance floor at the ”Sagra dei Rigatoni”, or exercise ourselves in the surrounding woods, or whether we wait for our bus in Piazza Verdi in Lucca?