Bagni di Lucca, Province of Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
In the 11th century AD the valley was a fiefdom of powerful Tuscan families, as the Soffredinghi, Porcareschi, and Lupari. Then during the 12th century the independent town of Lucca occupied the area, which in 1308 became one jurisdiction called Vicaria Della Val di Lima.
Since the 14th century then the Republic of Lucca made of Bagni the main spa centre in Italy, welcoming guests from all over Europe. In Napoleonic times the place was a favourite retreat of the Buonaparte family, coming for the spas as well as for a casino.
After the Congress of Vienna and throughout the 19th century the Dukedom of Lucca became an international court, and Bagni was the summer retreat of the court, with the casino organizing also magnificent dance events. When however the Dukedom was sold to Leopold of Lorraine, the Granduke of Tuscany, the casino was closed in 1853, and later after 1860 when Tuscany was included in the kingdom of Italy the decadence of the place as a fashionable resort began.
What to see
- the Villa Ada, a previous Renaissance mansion of the local De Nobili family, renovated in the 19th century by Sir Mac Bean, a British consul in Leghorn who added also the two 6-sided towers, and surrounded by large, romantic gardens, including also an artificial grotto. It is now a property of the municipality, and is used for spa therapies.
- the Thermal Baths, already known in Roman times, and a spa centre documented since the Middle Ages, had visitors from all over Europe since medieval times. The spas consist of 19 natural springs with different concentrations of calcium and sulphur, and a maximum temperature of 54 degrees centigrade.
- the Casinò of the 19th century, the first in Europe, suppressed in the 1850's, whose managers moved then to Monaco
- the natural reserve Orrido di Botri, a deep canyon of great beauty, preserving rare plant species and hosting many rare rapacious birds, as the royal eagle and the owl.