Chifenti’s Little Oratory

There’s a little chapel in Chifenti which most people, I’m pretty sure, have passed by without even noticing it was there. Apart from the gothicky windows there’s not much outside to admit that it’s a chapel. Stuck at the end of a row of somewhat dilapidated buildings it looks equally abandoned.

However, just turn the key of the green door,

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draw the velvet curtains facing you and you enter into a veritably sweet and well-kept chapel. The oratorio del Carmine at Chifenti is a double-vaulted building with a lovely decoration of stars adorning its arches. The altar has modestly grandiose pretentions with its serpentine columns hinting at those ones in the colossal Bernini baldachino of St Peter’s basilica, Rome. The altar painting shows the Madonna receiving Saint Anthony of Padua, he of the child Jesus. Delighful angels crown the summit of the altar.

It’s a charming place to stop at whether one has religious inclinations or not. I sometimes enter its sacred precincts when there’s something on my mind that needs sorting out and, inevitably, I exit the chapel with a clearer idea of what I’m supposed to do about it.

We first discovered the chapel when we bought our house in Longoio in 2005 and felt it was right to give thanks to the deity that everything went smoothly in our purchase.

The holy water stoups are beautifully carved.

One word of warning, however: when you leave the chapel be careful of the maniacs driving at full pelt on the road just outside it…the Madonna’s help may not always be sufficient to safeguard your road crossing.

Calling All Campers

The best area for campers (both camper vehicles and those bringing their own tents) and caravans for anyone visiting Bagni di Lucca is the one at Chifenti in the Comune of Borgo a Mozzano. Inaugurated in 2013 and sited by a formerly overgrown pasture, it’s easily reached from Lucca by going up the Brennero road and then turning off sharply to the left just when you see the chain suspension bridge connecting Fornoli with Chifenti.

The facilities include water supply, a well discharge, site illumination, a nearby bar and electricity and water supply. Dogs are allowed and the site is open all the year round. The four attachments for water and electricity are free and there’s is space for up to ten camper vans. Garbage collection facilities are somewhat lacking, however.

There’s also a dining area.

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A rafting centre is also situated near the camper site:

The camper/camping site is in a beautiful location. There is a large grassed area leading to Nottolini’s suspension bridge which dates from the nineteenth century and is well-worth a look. By the side of the bridge there are underground passages leading to the holding points for the great chains. I once managed to get to these but they are now inaccessible behind grilled doors.

There’s also an ancient bridge said to date from Roman times.

The Borgo a Mozzano camping makes quite a contrast with the Bagni di Lucca one at Fornoli where there are no such facilities. When I passed the Fornoli site the other day there were still some vehicles parked which belonged to a circus held there a couple of weeks ago. The site looked rather forlorn, although it is sited next to a spectacular lime avenue, and in my opinion needs a good shake-up to attract more camper users to Bagni di Lucca.

PS It should be remembered that there’s a very attractive camper/camping place in the offing near Gombereto which I’ve described in my post at just fifteen minutes away from Bagni di Lucca.