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The bathsBagno Bernabò

Marcello Cherubini in the pamplet “II Bagno Bernabò” for the development of the thermal baths writes that this was the first small establishment built in 1593, by the gentilmen of the Republic of Lucca, as they asked the opinion of the Medical College about the efficiency of the springs and the famous physicists like Matteo Pissini and Vicenzo Bandinelli. This small spring is in records at the end of the 18th century. Before then the spring was covered by branches and straw and was known only by local people, which bathed in it to cure skin diseases.For a long time it was called Bagno della Rogna. The old building remained the same for nearly two centuries. In 1805 Elisa, Napoleone Bonapartes younger sister married to Felice Baciocchi built a slendid villa called Villa Reale with stables at Bagno alla Villa, opened roads, picturesque pathways, modernized and expanded the establihments of the spa, all for the love of the high society and pleasures of life. She wanted to give to Bagni di Lucca the name of a modern village, making it a privilieged destination for the refined, rich, cultured italians, french, english, germans and russians. To realise this plan Elisa employed technicians, architects and engineers not only italian but also french. Among these there was the architect Charles Sambucy that in 1811 recieved the task to extend Bagno Bernabò and make it and the other establishments into a modern medical structure. The new building was finished in 1812. Bagno Bernabò was built in correspondence with the hot water springs on the side of the hill of Corsena towards Ponte a Serraglio, along the tree-lined road that takes one from the valleyfloor to the antique thermal baths of Docce Basse, San Giovanni and Jean Varraud. In the parks around the building had century old trees, there are lots of pathways of the 800’s with fountains and seats for the guests who go walking. In 1774 was the first time that “II diario del Viaggio in Italia” of Michel Montaigne was given into print, in 1580/81 on his stay in Bagni di Lucca to cure his kidney stones he wrote “early saturday morning i went to find the waters of Bernabò. This is a fountain like many others in this mountain, its marvellous that it has so many, hot and cold. It’s not too high and has a 3 mile circuit.One dosn’t drink from the main fountain and this one is only in use a few years. A leper that drank at all these fountains was cured.” Georg Christoper Martini on his trip in Tuscany (1725 - 1745) writes:

“Theres another little bath called Bernabò, named after a nobleman from Pistoia. It was built very well divided into two rooms, in the first theres an elegant octagonal tub for the men and the second for women. Beside these two rooms there are two changing rooms and a fireplace for heating clothes. I’ve noticed that once the fire is lit the waters start steaming and before there was no sign of this. I think its because once the fire is lit the air is finer and penetrates in the bath room and the vapours lift easily.”

The waters of Bagno Bernabò have a temperture of 39.2°C/102°F and the chimical composition dosn’t change with the rainfall. The balcony in front of Bagno Bernabò is today dedicated to Prof: Bruno Cherubini (1910 - 1976) and was built by Maria Luisa di Barbone. Bagni di Lucca is remembered by writers, poets and tourists that sat that the town planning and struture hasn’t changed from the Baciocchi, the Borboni and the Lorena era, but they gave use a center for curing, pastime and entertainment. Two examples are : the description of the german poet Heinrich Hiene on his stay in the summer of 1828,

“I’ve never seen such a wonderful valley, especially from the Balcony were black cypress trees rises, one can look down on the valley and see the bridge straddled over the Lima, which divides the village in two. On the sides small waterfalls form on the rocks, making an uproar wanting to speak, but not being understood, overpowdered by the numerous echo.”

Secondly from “Ricordi e fantasie sù Bagni di Lucca” published in 1834 by the Count of Longano, G. De Filippis - Delfico,

“In the slow shadow the native nature in Bagni a balcony dominates over various woodlands and villas…. From the hillock, the eye goes to the valleyfloor and the stream ascending to the bell tower.”

An interesting indication reguarding the house beside Bagno Bernabò were Sir Francis Vane founder of the Boy Scouts, stayed in 1910.

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