Bagni di Lucca

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Shelley Sites/Sights

Bagni di Lucca

The Shelleys, their two children, and Claire Clairmont stayed at Casa Bertini, just outside and above the town of Bagni di Lucca, from mid-June to mid-August 1818. They were the happiest they had been since Marlow, although they remained for only two months. They spent their time walking and admiring the surrounding landscapes, studying (mostly ancient Greek authors), visiting the spa, and perusing early (although mostly negative) responses to Frankenstein. The place was not particularly conducive to creative work, however; Shelley had planned to draft his "Tasso" here, but instead turned his attention to translation—most notably Plato's Symposium, completing the monumental task in only ten days.
Like so many Shelley sites, there is a bit of a mystery here. John Webster reports that he was in Bagni di Lucca not long ago, and was directed to a different house—having been told by by an expatriot Englishman that the Italians had put the plaque on the wrong house. He has supplied a photo of a house (below) which corresponds to that shown in Holmes's book. (Webster also maintains a lovely website with a number of Shelley and Byron images.)
bagni di lucca  
Whichever house is the correct one, Casa Bertini is devilishly difficult to find (had it not been for David Miall's directions, we'd still be looking for it) although its magnificent views make it well worth the effort. Subsequent construction has somewhat restricted Shelley's commanding prospect of the Lucca area below, however.
From Lucca take route 12 north to Bagni di Lucca. Once in town, follow the signs toward the municipal swimming pool (left off route 12) until you reach an arched entrance which continues on to the pool. Do not go through the arch, but rather take the switchback on your left and continue up the hill to a small, dead-end piazza.
Casa Bertini is on the left. Fifty yards or so further on there is a narrow walkway on the left, which leads up to Byron's residence.

Published @ RC

January 2006