The thermal town of Bagni di Lucca was known for its springs since the Etruscan and Roman Ages. It later became the summer residence of Napoleon’s court and with the French occupation reached its maximum splendour. It was during this period that a Casino was built, offering gambling rooms and a large hall where to dance the night away.
Many events are organized during the year for the numerous tourists who visit town. A traditional one is being held this evening, 5th January, “la Polentata di Befana”. In Italian folklore, the Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children on the Eve of Epiphany. If the children are good their socks are filled with sweets and presents, if they are bad they get a nice big lump of coal, actually a dark rock-hard candy. Bagni di Lucca celebrates this event organizing a huge party with polenta, ground yellow cornmeal cooked in huge copper pots, as the main dish.
At dusk ‘beggars’ go from house to house singing the traditional Befana songs, handed down from generation to generation, and asking for donations. As the evening proceeds music and dancing fill the streets with merrymaking. At the stroke of midnight, polenta is offered to all present. Served directly from the copper pots the polenta can be eaten with sausages, with ‘biroldo’, the typical blood sausage of this Garfagnana region, with pecorino or ricotta cheese and must absolutely be matched to excellent red wine.
Bagni di Lucca offers much to its visitors, as well as its surroundings with the medieval villages dotting the mountain, the famous medieval Ponte della Maddalena, aka The Devil’s Bridge with its lofty central arch, down in the Serchio valley and the beautiful canyon of the Orrido di Botri.
Link to one of our holiday accommodations near Bagni di Lucca.