jump to navigation

An American family at the Bagni di Lucca 10/12/2010

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,

c. 1930 (remembering a period some twenty years before)

Even from the days of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Bagni di Lucca had been the summer headquarters of English people living in Florence and Rome, many of them coming even from the latter city by diligence or in their own carriages. The medicinal waters and baths, an English church, a resident English physician, a small but well-selected English circulating library not to speak of the charm and beauty of the Tuscan mountains, with their good roads and picturesque scenery easily explained the attractiveness of the Bagni di Lucca for English-speaking people who resided in Italy. Relaxation along with work was the program in the Taylor home in vacation days. Everyone was to have some study or writing or serious reading during the morning hours, the afternoons being long enough for walks and drives out into the mountains and along the valley of the Lima. The eldest son had regular lessons in Italian, sharing the attractive Italian lady teacher with an even more attractive American girl about his own age. This trio read together so faithfully that Italian classic Promessi Sposi, by Manzoni, that his generous father, at the end of the summer, in token of George’s diligence and progress, presented to him a handsomely illustrated copy of the great novel he had learned to love…  

During the summer, and again other summers, Dr. Taylor took ‘sittings’ at the church of England, whose edifice, built in the days of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, was not allowed to have on the outside the appearance of a church, and so seemed to passers-by a large family residence. The morning and afternoon services on Sunday were attended regularly by the family. As for the circulating library (mainly English books), which was delightfully situated in the edge of a villa, it was the joy and blessing of the whole family through all their years at the Bagni di Lucca. The Casino was not much used by the Taylors, but the Sunday afternoon concerts in the village square they had to hear nolens volens, as their house was only a stone’s throw away. Since their landlady was a Catholic, and also their cook Ottavia, Mrs. Taylor did not like to leave the baby too long alone without any member of the family, for she had read a story about an English mother who years before had lived at the Bagni di Lucca. It was to this effect: she went away once to be gone all day, leaving the baby with the Catholic nurse. Returning for some reason sooner than she had planned, as she entered the room, she heard the servant say: ‘Another cursed Protestant out of the way’. She had poisoned the baby.

If anything, Bagni di Lucca was more delightful as the early autumn days came on than in the summer. Then the chestnuts began to open and fall. As the people used the chestnuts for flour, the trees were closely watched as the fruit came to maturity. Up the mountain-sides there were bridle-paths, not roads, and any chestnuts found on these paths might be picked up freely by anyone, but to step out of the path and pick up chestnuts was to trespass, and there were those on watch to prevent such infringement of the law. When the chestnuts have been gathered and dried, they are ground at the mill and the flour made into cakes and baked between heated stones, covered by leaves. More than once the family lingered at the Bagni in the fall, after Dr. Taylor had gone on to Rome. It was safer in Rome after the equinoctial fall rains. By that time it would get too cool without fires, and the Casa Morgana at the Bagni had no fireplaces nor stoves. Then Mrs. Taylor would gather her little ‘brood’ and, with Ottavia and her daughter Libera, cook and nurse respectively, hasten on to Rome. One year, upon their arrival at Pisa, it was learned that the rains had broken the line by Civita Vecchia, and that a detour by way of Florence would have to be made. But this route was much more expensive, and there was not enough money for the tickets! What was to be done? Fortunately, the Episcopal pastor at Pisa was the summer pastor at Bagni, and he kindly loaned Mrs. Taylor the necessary money.



No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: