Your Italian Travel Tips – Grotta del Vento in Bagni di Lucca, Italy

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Today I am featuring a blogger who lives in a little known area of small towns nestled in the mountains of northern of Tuscany called  “Bagni di Lucca”.

About once a month (or so), I have been re-blogging posts that describe the lesser known places in Italy – or the more well-known viewed in a unique way – under the heading, “Your Italian Travel Tips.” The post for October was written by Debra Kolkka,  who writes the blog “Bella Bagni di Lucca.”

Although no longer a tourist “hot spot,” the area of Bagni di Lucca has been known for its thermal springs since the Etruscan and Roman times according to Debra.  The name means, “Baths of Lucca,” and it  was known as oasis for the super-rich since Countess Matilda had a bridge built to the region in 1101 and especially in the early 1800’s, when Napoleon’s sister Elisa Baciocchi, princess of Lucca at the time, had a road built into the region and spent summers there.

I have to say it is well worth a visit to her blog just to take a look at the photos  of these quintessentially picturesque towns set along the Lima River in the crevices of the lush, green Alps of northern Tuscany.  I can’t resist adding a link to her photos here.

In her own words, Debra says about herself:

I am an Australian who spends half of the year in Bagni di Lucca. I started the blog to share our lovely village with the world. Bagni di Lucca is a collection of about 25 villages dotted along the Lima and  in the mountains on either side. I have visited all of them and you can find a list of the villages and posts about them in “The Villages”.

In the post to follow, Debra describes a tour  of the Grotta del Vento, a wind cave (read on to find out just what this is, as I did!) in the Apuan Alps  in northern Tuscany, about 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca.  How’s that for an interesting Italian adventure tell your friends about the next time you visit Tuscany!

And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, lightweight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip to Italy! Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

Bella Bagni di Lucca

The Grotta del Vento, wind cave, is a cave in a mountain in Garfagnana, an area in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. It is near the towns of Fornovalasco and Vergemoli. (About 35 minutes from Bagni di Lucca) The cave has 2 entrances, one at 642 metres above sea level and another on the other side of the mountain at 1400 metres.

It is a wind cave because air is able to blow through the cave from one entrance to the other. The direction of the wind depends on the temperature outside the cave. In summer, when the air outside is warmer, the air is drawn through the higher entrance and out of the lower entrance. In winter the reverse happens and the air flows upwards. If the temperature outside is the same as inside there is no wind. The temperature inside the cave stays at around 10.7degrees…

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Your Italian Travel Tips… Gone But Not Lost: The Bridges of Florence during World War II

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, for Conversational Italian for Travelers books

Ciao a tutti! Today I am featuring one of my favorite bloggers and her unique insights about Florence.

About once a month (or so), I have been re-blogging posts that describe the lesser known places in Italy – or the more well-known viewed in a unique way – under the heading, “Your Italian Travel Tips.” The post for August was written by Stacy di Anna Pollard,  who writes the blog Prayers and Piazzas, in which she shares her love of  Italy and the Italian language.

I was thrilled to return from my visit to Florence this past July to find that Stacy had just posted a blog about the history of the bridges of Florence.  So many visitors to Italy have walked across, photographed, and enjoyed the beauty of the bridges that cross the Arno River – as I was privileged to do again recently.  But until I read this article, I did not appreciate the sacrifices the Florentine people have undergone so we could enjoy their city today.  Luckily for us, Stacy loves to share her research!

In her own words, Stacy says about herself:

Wife, mom, friend, blogger, reader, Italiana-Americana, introvert. Here I write about the most important things in my life: my family (“prayers”) and my love of Italy and Italian (“piazzas”). I also enjoy writing about gratitude, joy, books and travel. Blogging from America with Italy on my heart. – Prayers and Piazzas: link to the site: http://www.prayersandpiazzas.com

 

In the post to follow, Stacy describes how most of the bridges and much of the city of Florence was destroyed during World War II.  Read on to find out how the city’s most famous bridge – the Ponte Vecchio – was saved so that our generation and future generations will always be able to wonder at its glory!

And remember Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases on Amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com if you need a compact, lightweight pocket guidebook to take on your next trip to Italy! Free Cultural Notes, Italian Recipes, and Audio to help you practice your Italian are also found on Learn Travel Italian.com.

Prayers and Piazzas

By late July of 1944, Allied forces were very close to liberating Florence from the Nazis, who had occupied the city for the past year.

“The Allied forces are advancing on Florence,” warned thousands of leaflets dropped by American planes. “The city’s liberation is at hand. Citizens of Florence, you must unite to preserve your city and to defeat our common enemies… Prevent the enemy from detonating mines which they may have placed under bridges…” ¹

But different directives were coming from the German high command to the citizens of Florence. On July 29, 1944, residents along the Arno — around 150,000 people — were warned to leave their homes by noon the next day. Ultimately, the whole area was blocked off, with German paratroops standing guard at various posts.

On August 3, another warning was issued from the German high command: Beginning from this moment, it is prohibited for…

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