We awoke after a pleasant night's rest at the Hotel Corona in Bagni di Lucca knowing that this day was our day of reckoning. It was a day to learn if we really had nerves of steel! We had visited the Ponte Sospeso (located in the Comune di San Marcello Pistoiese) on a previous trip, only to find that it was closed for repairs. Disappointed at the time, we vowed to return and test our courage by walking across this footbridge which traverses the Lima River. The suspension bridge, built in 1923, spans a distance of 744 feet, is 118 feet above the river, measures 4 feet wide and is the longest pedestrian bridge in Europe. It is built of steel cables, wire mesh sides and steel grate panels for the floor of the bridge.
Originally built by the owner of a limestone quarry and processing plant so his employees could cross the river more easily and arrive at work in less time (than walking a distance to a town where a bridge crossed the river and then back up the other side to work) the bridge today welcomes travelers and "thru hikers" from all parts of our world.
After a short walk from the car park we arrived at the "point of no return". To cross or not to cross, that was the question (apologies to William Shakespeare). After a brief moment of contemplation, perhaps just enough to summon up our courage, we took our first step onto the bridge. One step followed another and before we realized it we were a third of the way across the bridge. At this point we could feel the bridge swing back and forth in the wind and shake with each step we took. As we walked, we looked down through the floor grates to the river below. A chill ran up our spine but we summoned our courage and throwing caution to the wind, ventured forth with renewed determination to cross the bridge and create a story we could share with our grandchildren. We made it, turned around to see the sight of our victorious walk and then realized we had to make a return trip. No problem for us, we were experienced bridge crossers! So off we went on the return trip, excited and confident.
After we crossed the Ponte Sospeso with heartbeats returning to normal and our nerves calmed down, we realized the adventure we had. Now it was time to relax. And so it was off to village of Cutigliano and the Trattoria da Fagiolino for lunch.
Cutigliano is a village of steep streets and baskets and window boxes full of beautiful flowers. The streets wind their way up the side of the mountain . The village plays host to skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. High above Cutigliano (a three kilometer cable car ride) is the ski area of Doganaccia. As we walked our way through the ins and outs of the village's narrow streets and past its many shops, we came upon the Town Hall with its unique exterior decor...the coats of arms of all the ruling families in the town's history.
The Trattoria da Fagiolino is well known for its fresh porcini mushrooms. As luck would have it, we were there during the month of October, right in the middle of the fall porcini season. As we entered the Trattoria, we walked past large windows which allowed us a view of the kitchen and the chef-owner preparing various lunch orders.
Decorated in light, cheerful colors, Trattoria da Fagiolino creates a relaxed environment in which to enjoy Tuscan cooking at its finest.
While sipping some "house white" we made our choices for an all porcini lunch. We decided to maximize our tasting experience by ordering a few selections from the menu and sharing them. The first was risotto con porcini. The risotto was delightfully creamy, the porcini adding a remarkable flavor. Next, we shared the gnoccetti con porcini, served with a fresh marjoram sauce, an unusual but delicious combination. Our final choice was gran fritto di funghi, porcini mushrooms dipped in light batter and deep fried. Unbelievable!
During our lunch the chef-owner visited the dining room and stopped at our table. Our visit was enjoyable as we talked about how he prepared the fresh porcini mushroom dishes we enjoyed. We certainly appreciated his willingness to share some cooking tips with us. Our dining experience at Trattoria da Fagiolino was exceptional in every way...the service...the meal...the atmosphere. Wonderfully Tuscan!
After a pleasant ride back through the mountains to Bagni di Lucca we arrived at our hotel for a much needed riposo.
Our next day's travels would take us to our favorite Tuscan bed and breakfast, Casa Bellavista, and many more adventures including dinner at Bottega di Cuoco in Monte San Savino. A world of culinary delights lie ahead. Let the adventure continue!
Dave and Edie www.fototoscana.com