The Most Beautiful House in Bagni di Lucca Villa

As if the re-opening of Bagni di Lucca’s iconic “Circolo dei Forestieri” were not another wonder to re-awaken Bagni di Lucca after its recent traumatic past, a jewel of a building has cast away its scaffolding to reveal itself in its full wonder.

In my opinion it’s probably the most beautiful house in the whole valley and also the most historic. This is where, after all, Robert Browning, from my own borough of Camberwell London SE where I was born, lived and educated, and Elizabeth Barrett, who Robert saved from a dangerously possessive father, enjoyed their most idyllic moments, wrote their most entrancing verses, wandered on their most bewitching walks, lived their most affectionate memories of a love that has captured the world with its intensity, its sensitivity and its creativity.

This is the house (which I originally described at and which was most recently lived in by a well-known army general) which has been brought back to life as a sleeping beauty by that prince of architects, Francesco Rondina, himself and the bounty of a couple, Florentine and English in turn. Through the cobwebs of neglect, through the brambles of dereliction it has once more seen the light of a new dawn.

The courage, the pride, the ultimate beauty of the result is yet another example of how Bagni di Lucca is re-awakening with courage and determination thanks to the force and generosity of people with sufficient vision to see what a unique corner of Tuscany (and the world) we have the privilege to live in.

I have absolutely no doubt that the extraordinary finds of this house (I am only showing the external decorations but within there are the most exquisitely languorous art nouveau women you could possibly imagine) will finally confirm Bagni di Lucca as not only a historic spa town but as one which was inspired by all the latest currents of that seductive art nouveau (“stile liberty in Italian) which permeated Lucca and its provinces as much as other parts of Italy and turned it into a centre of the beau monde and of the highest intellectual life with such greats as Carducci, Pascoli and (of course) Giacomo Puccini himself.


O that we had never had those terrible two ghastly wars in the last century! The tragedy of Europe, of a continent as it was once known and loved…… How much more we would have reached the beauty, the sexiness, the absolute joie de vivre which was beginning to burgeon at the start of the twentieth century and which could have produced a paradise on earth or at least around the Val di Lima. No wonder E. M. Forster (who I was so happy to know and appreciate during my undergraduate days) was unable to write any more “European novels” after that horror.

Bagni di Lucca’s most beautiful house encapsulates all those aspirations which were so utterly dashed between 1914 and 1918 never to rise again in their hoped-for form. Let us look at it, admire it and be inspired.

Meanwhile, I send my heartfelt congratulations to all those responsible for the rebirth of an ecstatic architectural beauty in Val di Lima and Bagni di Lucca.

For, as Keats famously said:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.


I do wish more people would realise that………..



16 thoughts on “The Most Beautiful House in Bagni di Lucca Villa

  1. It’s beautiful, I can’t wait to see it in person, I am so glad somebody had the courage (and the money) to restore it.

  2. What a fabulous restoration job they have done. I stood outside with my wife a couple of years ago when the house was in some sort of architectural limbo. I’m delighted to see that someone has had the foresight and the belief to carry out the required works. Is the house open to the public or is it a private house? There are lots of literary societies who would be delighted to come to Bagni and see such a wonderful house with such strong literary connections. It can only be good for Bagni. Bravo!

  3. Well it is all rather ironic this proprty could indeed be most peoples dream home however I would not like to even imagine what the extent of the bills for the upkeep of such a vast villa will be let alone heating or lighting bills may be, I personally would love a home like that but I would find its vastness rather too much and my only objection would be that there are no views despite the painted utopian murals which are very cheering and uplifting! This property reminds me of those rambling houses that are part of the National Trust collection it will indeed a tough call for the new owners to live up to it is also a huge responsibility and I certainly would not wish to have pestering callers on my doorstep not even for the sake of Elizabeth and Robert Barrett Browning Summer time retreats here we are a few centuries behind the times to meet up with them but hey I applaud the truly magnificent makeover restoration work by a true artist certainly my preferred oeuvre! I think that we all crave a mini affordable version of the same idyllic house and I know several people who have achieved such homes and well done even to the new owners of our dreams!

  4. Francis, thank you for the beautiful article on our house. We hope to meet you and your wife once in Bagni di Lucca! Laura & Andy

  5. What a beautiful post, Francis. I look forward to seeing this wonderful restoration on our return and I am in complete agreeance with you, or is it Keats, that beauty is all we need to know.

  6. Pingback: Morris Here, There and Everywhere. | From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Two

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