Puccini Ride: riding through the lands of the Maestro
The itinerary starts from downtown Lucca, symbolically from the Puccini Museum – Birth Place where Giacomo Puccini was born. Once we leave the splendid Renaissance walls on our way out of Porta Santa Maria, we head toward the Boario forum, site of the weekly farmers' market. Here we take the Puccini bike-pedestrian path, on a stretch of dirt road that, running along the Serchio river, accompanies us in total safety to the small village of Ponte a Moriano.
Here we leave the bike-pedestrian path, and heading north, we cross the Pedogna Valley to the entrance of the climb that leads us to the hamlet of Celle Puccini, birthplace of the composer's grandfather and where the Maestro spent part of his childhood. The ancestral home, on the edge of the village, now houses a Museum dedicated to the family.
Leaving Celle Puccini, we take the beautiful, basically traffic-free road up to the church of St. Peter the Apostle in Fiano, where we begin to descend along the scenic road that leads to San Martino in Freddana. From Provincial Road 1, which crosses the Freddana Valley and links Lucca to the coastline, we take the section of the Via Francigena that accompanies us, virtually car-free, as far as the Certosa di Farneta after crossing a few small localities, among which Piazzano and San Macario in Piano.
In Farneta, known for the Carthusian monastery and sadly known for the massacre perpetrated by Nazi troops on the night of 1 to 2 September, 1944, we begin to climb along a deserted and wonderful road that takes us to Chiatri Puccini, home of one of the villas owned by the composer;
“from up there you can see an enchantment: the coast, from Livorno to Spezia; the Arno and the Serchio; Corsica, in clear weather, the islands of Gorgona and Capraia, and also the scrubland of San Rossore, Migliarino and the scrubland of the Bourbons around Lucca”.
With Chiatri behind us, we ride as far as mount Quiesa first and then to Lake Massaciuccoli, a protected area dotted with gentle landscapes. In Ripafratta, we take the Puccini bike-pedestrian path again that, skirting the Serchio river and crossing the San Pietro bridge, leads us again to the doors of Lucca.
Note: those who would like to try their hand at an easier and less physically demanding itinerary, can take advantage of this track by sticking to the stretch from Ponte a Moriano (north of Lucca) to Lake Massaciuccoli; about thirty kilometers with practically no elevation gain. This is the so-called "Ciclopedonale Puccini" (Puccini bike-pedestrian path) that runs along the Serchio river to the lake dearly loved by the Artist.