The villages of our Val di Lima in the comune of Bagni di Lucca have all their very individual characteristics. Some have large piazzas like Brandeglio, others have stratospheric views like Crasciana, and there are amazing churches in some, like San Cassiano and Vico Pancellorum. All, however, have one thing in common and that is they can be fruitfully re-visited and on every revisit new things discovered which may easily make one decide “this is the most beautiful of the villages here”.
While having nothing which makes it more remarkable than the other villages we certainly had the impression that, on our trip yesterday, Limano took the crown for location and picturesque streets.
Like several village approaches Limano, although it can be clearly seen from our area of the Controneria, seems to disappear only to be found suddenly round the final bend of the mountain road leading to it.
Limano is located at an altitude of 538 meters (1765 feet) above sea level, and is 13 kilometres from Bagni di Lucca.
There is an old part which rises up a hilltop where there are the remains of a castle and a newer part called Gave which rises up the slopes of Monte Limano, famous for its recently discovered prehistoric stone figures carved in its higher reaches which can be reached by some well-marked footpaths.
As the Roman origin of its name implies, Limano was at the boundary or limit of Luccan power and thus had to be well fortified to defend the valley against possible enemy incursions from the direction of Pistoia.
First mentioned in 893 Limano formally became part of the Luccan republic in 1209. In 1428 it was conquered by the Florentines but, after further battles and a peace treaty, it was returned to Lucca in 1442 and has remained part of that province ever since.
Apart from agriculture Limano has survived on exporting firewood and, amazingly, was not too damaged by the recent great storm, perhaps because of its well-protected position. In the nineteen century silver was discovered but not enough to warrant the exploitation of the mines into the twentieth century.
Limano’s parish church is dedicated to St Martin (Lucca’s cathedral is dedicated to the same saint) and was completed in 1776. It was closed when we visited it so I wasn’t able to see its Della Robbia but was impressed by the exterior of the semi-circular apse.
There were some amazing vaulted passages nearby – perhaps part of the old castle?
There were various sweet shrines around Limano’s little piazza. I though the chapel dedicated to our Lady was gracious with its portico. Evidently, it was built out of material salvaged from the original parish church which had to be abandoned because of a landslide.
The piazza unites newer Gave and older Limano together and has a delightful fountain in it.
We last visited Limano several years ago at the beginning of August when its main festivities take place. The highlight is country dancing in traditional costumes and the serving of plentiful portions of rabbit and polenta.
Perhaps we’ll make a welcomed return at the start of August for more polenta and rabbit..